When the Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez went to the bullpen at Florida Wednesday night, play-by-play announcer Chip Caray said, “Pitching change for Atlanta. Derek Lowe did not pitch poorly.”
Interesting choice of words. Then again, it seems this qualifies as news.
After allowing 15 earned runs and 26 hits in 13.1 innings over his last three starts, Lowe didn’t stink against the Marlins. He allowed three runs and six hits in 6.1 innings. It wasn’t Cy Young, but it wasn’t bad Vaudeville, either.
So here’s the thing. Last season, I made the mistake of writing off Lowe — for which he never let me forget — and he ended up becoming the Braves’ best pitcher down the stretch and in the postseason. This year, he has been a mess. But minus Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens, the team needs a third starter for the playoffs, assuming they make the playoffs, and, yes, I realize that’s a dangerous assumption. (The Braves lost to the Marlins 4-0, St. Louis defeated the Mets 6-5 and suddenly the wild card lead is down to 1½ games.)
Bit if they make it, here’s the question: Do the Braves start Lowe?
For the sake of this argument, let’s assume Jurrjens will not be available for the wild card round (safe assumption) and Hanson will still be rehabilitating from a shoulder injury (50-50). That leaves Tim Hudson and Brandon Beachy as the logical Nos. 1 and 2 starters.
Your choices for the No. 3 starter: Lowe (9-16, 4.92), Mike Minor (5-2, 4.27), Randall Delgado (1-1, 2.70) or Julio Teheran (1-1, 5.40). The debate is whether you go with the veteran with postseason experience in the hope that he comes through, or one of the young pitchers in the hope that he doesn’t implode.
I’m going to play Switzerland on this subject. At least for another week.
But you may now vote, and fire away . . .
By Jeff Schultz