MILWAUKEE – When Chris Withrow’s surgically repaired pitching elbow was still sore Sunday after two days of rest, the Braves decided not to wait any longer to have the setup reliever checked out.
They placed Withrow on the 15-day disabled list Monday and booked him on an early morning flight back to Atlanta from Milwaukee to be examined by Braves doctors. Because of Delta’s systemwide problems Monday, his flight was delayed about five hours and his appointment had to be rescheduled for Tuesday.
Withrow’s move to the DL opened a spot for reliever Chaz Roe, the right-hander claimed off waivers from the Orioles on Sunday. Against because of the Delta flight issues Monday, the Braves doubted whether Roe would make it to Milwaukee in time for the game.
Withrow, 27, has had a solid comeback after missing the second half of the 2014 season with the Dodgers and all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery and back surgery. He’s 2-0 with a 3.31 ERA and .212 opponents’ average in 40 appearances and has 25 strikeouts and 14 walks in 32 2/3 innings.
He has been particularly effective since returning from Triple-A, after being scored upon in consecutive late-April appearances and being sent down for most of May.
“He’s done a great job in getting this far and we just want to check it out and make sure,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said, “because I don’t think he could have pitched Sunday. So instead of waiting and waiting and going short in the bullpen, we just went ahead and have him looked at, make sure and hopefully take this time, get him back well and finish the year.”
Snitker said impressive rookie Mauricio Cabrera, he of the 100-102 mph fastball, would likely get more eighth-inning work while Withrow’s sidelined.
“It’s going to be good because I think he’s going to jump himself up a notch now,” Snitker said. “I think with what he’s went through I have no reservations about putting him in probably the eighth inning right now. I feel really good about it, actually.”
Withrow worked his way into the role of primary setup man while posting a 0.59 ERA in 19 appearances from June 14 through July 27, allowing one run – on a homer — in 15 1/3 innings in that span. In his last three appearances July 31 through Thursday, Withrow gave up two runs on a pair of homers.
After pitching an inning apiece in consecutive games against the Pirates Wednesday and Thursday, he had some elbow soreness and the Braves told him to rest the first two games of the Cardinals series Friday and Saturday. Snitker said Withrow came bounding out of the dugout before Sunday’s game and would’ve pitched in that series finale if they asked him to, but Withrow conceded his elbow was still sore.
“We tried to stay away from him the whole series in St. Louis,” Snitker said. “We planned after that to get him two days off anyway, but it didn’t respond yesterday like we thought it was going to. So the training staff and everybody thought it would probably just be better to have him looked at.”
Withrow’s workload had increased significantly in the past five weeks. He pitched in 13 of 27 Braves games from June 30 through July 31 — a period that included the four-day All-Star break.