The Braves wanted to wait and see how Paul Maholm fared in a minor league rehabilitation start Saturday in Rome before announcing their plans for his return, but after the veteran showed his left wrist is healthy, the Braves revealed plans to start Maholm Thursday in St. Louis.
He’ll come off the disabled list to open the Braves four-game series against the Cardinals.
“I threw 90 pitches Saturday and everything feels good,” said Maholm, who will return for the first time since leaving a July 20 outing against the White Sox when he allowed seven runs in three innings. “Just hopefully use this month to reset and get back like I was pitching earlier in the year and not like I was my last three starts.”
Thursday was originally Mike Minor’s day to start, but the Braves will now skip Minor to give him some extra rest for the stretch run. They have Minor penciled in to start again Tuesday when the Braves open a nine-game homestand against the Cleveland Indians.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said this had nothing to do with Minor’s last outing, when he went a career-low 1 2/3 innings against the Nationals, and Minor said he feels fine physically. This is just a chance for the Braves to use Maholm’s return to rest some of their younger starters, like Minor and Teheran.
The Braves won’t go to a six-man rotation the next time through, Gonzalez said. They’ll likely skip another starter, perhaps Teheran.
“We’re trying to use Pauly to get some of the guys a little breather,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve probably got the youngest rotation in the major leagues, well behind the Marlins probably. We’ve got guys who are getting to some of the innings (totals) they’ve never reached before.”
Minor has thrown at most about 180 innings, which he did in each of the past two seasons. Even skipping this turn, he’s on pace for about 200 innings this season. Teheran, whose career-high is 164 innings, has thrown 149 innings so far. He’s on target for around 200 innings if he doesn’t skip a start.
“We were never concerned about his innings,” Gonzalez said of Teheran. “But now we have that luxury that we could do give him a little breather too.”
The Braves will pitch Alex Wood on Wednesday against the Mets and Maholm on Thursday in St. Louis, followed by Kris Medlen, Teheran, and Brandon Beachy. Then after an off day Monday Minor would pitch Tuesday against Cleveland, followed by Medlen.
For his part, Minor said he understands.
“They want everybody to feel fresh going into the end of the season,” Minor said.
Minor said he initially thought he would use the time off to throw several bullpens, but the Braves want him only to play catch every day and then throw his usual pre-start bullpen over the weekend.
Minor said he has watched video of his start Saturday against Washington and thinks he’s addressed a mechanical flaw he saw, but that he felt fine. He walked four batters in the career-low 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs.
“There was nothing wrong with me last start, it was just a bad start,” Minor said. “I was missing spots and my arm was lagging, body was kind of going everywhere.”
The Braves haven’t announced the corresponding roster move they’ll make when they activate Maholm Thursday. They could choose to go with a position player rather than a bullpen arm and then recall that player when rosters expand on Sept. 1.