There has been a lot of chatter on Twitter in recent weeks about the return of Braves righty Brandon Beachy. The 26 year old is more than 13 months removed from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery and fantasy owners are excited to get him back. Over the course of his short career, Beachy has amassed a 3.07 ERA 1.14 WHIP and 252 strikeouts in just under 238 innings. However, we mustn’t forget that he is coming off a major surgery and he will have to find his sea legs, so to speak, before he we can rely on quality outings from him.
In his first start since June 16 of last year, Beachy was pounded by the Rockies for 7 earned runs in just 3.1 innings. The 5 strikeouts were a welcomed sight in an otherwise horrendous outing (although 2 were against opposing pitcher Jorge De La Rosa). Even better, though, was the 1 walk. In 30 rehab innings for triple A Gwinnett, Beachy walked 18 batters. Control is one of the last things to come back for a pitcher post-Tommy John, so this was a good sign. However, the young hurler is going to have to pitch much better in order to maintain a rotation spot once lefty Paul Maholm returns from his wrist injury, and Alex Wood is waiting in the wings. To further complicate things, the Braves are said to be involved in trade talks with the Chicago White Sox for veteran Jake Peavy. The Braves have championship aspirations, so while Beachy will likely have ample time to figure things out, they won’t just keep sending him out there to get slaughtered.
When Beachy is right, there’s no question he has the ability to be an impact arm and projects as such. Many fantasy owners (myself included) were high on Beachy entering last season after an impressive 2011. In that season, Beachy recorded a solid 3.68 ERA/1.21 WHIP combo with 169 punch-outs in 141.2 innings. He seemingly built upon that success in 2012. In his first 13 starts before succumbing to injury, Beachy managed a stingy 2.00 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 81 innings. However, his strikeout rate dropped from 10.74 all the way to 7.56 and his walk rate rose from 2.92 to 3.22. The ERA was also a mirage, as Beachy had an unsustainable .241 BABIP. His xFIP in 2012 was a pedestrian 4.14. To add on to the hate, the Kokomo, Indiana native would have had trouble keeping his HR/FB at 6.7% with a FB% north of 40%. If he hadn’t got hurt, we would most likely have been touting him soon after as a sell-high option.
In shallow one-year leagues, Beachy can be avoided for now. In deeper mixed leagues however, he is worth an add. It may be wise to leave him on your bench until he shows that he can be effective. On strikeout upside alone, Beachy has the ability to be an impact pitcher, just maybe not in 2013. Even the great Adam Wainwright wasn’t himself in 2012 after going under the knife for Tommy John in 2011. These things take time. I like Beachy much more in keeper formats, and he needs to be viewed as someone who could make a real impact in 2014. For this year though, temper your expectations accordingly, as you will likely be disappointed if you think he will jump right back into the upper tier of fantasy starters.
Timothy King is a staff writer for RotoAnalysis. Follow him on Twitter @TKing978 and look for his work all season long on RotoAnalysis.com