ATLANTA – When the Gwinnett Braves played against the Columbus Clippers on the road Thursday night, Gavin Floyd was there making his fifth rehab start. Floyd gave up two earned runs on five hits and pitched 5 1/3 innings. He said he felt good after throwing 86 pitches.
“Today I feel normal soreness back in the scap [shoulder blade] area,” Floyd said. “My elbow feels great, shoulder feels good, body feels good. That was a big plus getting in six innings, getting up and down six times. That’s one of the major goals coming back, to go out there and do that, and then recover well.”
Through five rehab starts, Floyd has an 0-2 record with a 4.74 ERA and has pitched 19 innings. He’ll make a sixth rehab start on April 29 when the G-Braves travel to take on the Toledo Mud Hens.
Then, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has some decisions to make.
“That’ll be like [May] 2 or [May] 3, or somewhere around there when he finishes [rehab], Gonzalez said in regard to Floyd’s April 29 start and then the three to four days of recovery that follow. “We still have six or seven more games to play until that day comes up. We’ll see what happens.”
Floyd was signed by the Braves on Dec. 16 to add depth to the rotation. But then Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy were both shut down for the season and underwent “Tommy John” surgery, making Floyd more of a necessity than depth.
A funny thing happened to begin the season, however. Instead of the piecemealed Braves rotation floundering, it’s arguably been the best in baseball.
Prior to the start of games on Friday, the Braves’ starting pitchers had a combined 1.50 ERA, far and away the best in baseball. They also lead the league in opponents batting average (.204).
When it’s time for Gonzalez to add Floyd back to the team, he’s going to have to remove a starter from a rotation that’s absolutely gelling at the moment. Gonzalez said he has thought of a number of scenarios, but has not made a decision yet on how to shuffle the rotation.
In regard to Floyd, he hopes to throw 100 pitches against the Mud Hens and continue to recover well and bounce back.
Floyd said the toughest challenge during his rehab starts has been getting used to game situations. He’s getting back into the habit of holding runners on, working with a slide step, mastering scenarios like needing a ground ball with runners on, and what pitch to throw to get that outcome.
“Just the little things that in a game and through the season you have to be good at. Trying to get those back and refine those,” Floyd said about what he’s working on to get ready. “Trying to have better feel and refresh your memory on those things, because it’s been a year since I’ve been out there.”