Brandon Beachy (by Ububba)

On May 17, 2012, Brandon Beachy tossed a 122-pitch, complete-game shutout of the Miami Marlins at Turner Field. At that early point in the season, Beachy held a 5-1 record with a 1.33 ERA after eight starts. And, for hardcore Braves fans, his games had become must-see TV, as he mixed Glavine-like poise with consistent strike-throwing ability — Gary Cooper, if you will, with an out pitch.

As we all know, a month later (and after another five starts), he was pulled out of a game vs. Baltimore in the 4th inning and put on the DL the next day with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. His outrageously promising season ended with a 5-5 record, but 1.5 WAR, 68 strikeouts against just 29 walks, and just 49 hits in 81 IP.

Oh, and he had a 2.00 ERA (200 ERA+) with a 0.96 WHIP. Hitters mustered a meager .171/.259/.507 slash line with a .201 BABIP. I know it was only 81 innings, but it’s hard to consider those numbers without wanting to reach for a drool bucket.

He underwent Tommy John surgery on June 21, threw off a mound in late October and, if rehab continues to go well, he’s expected to return to the big club midway through the 2013 campaign. It’ll be a big moment for the 26-year-old right-hander and another confirming moment for the club that’s nurtured his rise through the ranks.

His Game: Beachy gets ahead of hitters with a “rising” 4-seamer that averages 91-92 MPH (topping out at 94), then puts ’em away with a sharp-breaking, low-80s slider. He also works in a change and a curve, but those are mostly for show — although he will pull the string on lefties when he gets behind. His plan is relatively basic, but effective: Throw strike one or stay ahead at the always-pivotal 1-1 count; then make the hitter — lefty or righty — screw himself into the ground on the deadly 2-strike slider. Swing & miss — it’s a winning formula. Just ask John Smoltz.

In his eye-opening 2011 campaign — 7-3 and with a 3.68 ERA (3.19 FIP) — he racked up 10.74 K/9 in 141 IP/25 starts (for a 2.9 WAR season). Then in his abbreviated ’12 season, intentionally or otherwise, he seemed to dial down his emphasis on the strikeout. Granted, it was only 81 IP in 13 GS, but that number dropped to 7.56 K/9.

Perhaps that’s explained by his rising ground-ball rate, which rose from 33.8% to 41.3%. Meanwhile, his fly-ball rate dropped from 45.2% to 40.8%. More hitters, especially lefties, were beating the slider and off-speed stuff into the ground. FWIW, his walk rate ticked upward, from 2.92 BB/9 to 3.22, while his HR rate dipped from 1.02 HR/9 to 0.67.

Perhaps one can’t completely fall in love with that 81-inning ground-ball rate. So, if Beachy’s still more of a fly-ball pitcher, we probably can’t expect him to maintain (or even approach) that low HR rate. But, if he does, well… wow.

A native of Kokomo, Ind., and the eldest of seven siblings, Beachy grew up rooting for the White Sox and the Reds or, he admits, “anybody that was playing the Cubs.” He signed with Atlanta as an undrafted free agent in 2008, although he hadn’t pitched in high school or very much at Indiana Wesleyan, where he also played first-base and third-base. (And as some of you may know, he’s also an occasional film reviewer.)

The 6-3, 215-pound Beachy put in parts of four years in the minors, where he was primarily used as a reliever, with only 22 starts in 77 games. (Minor league numbers: 12-4, 2.54 ERA, 213 IP, 189 H, 236 K, 51 BB and 9 HR — not bad, eh?) Still, Beachy says he retained doubts about ever making it to The Show — until he experienced a mid-summer moment down on the farm where everything clicked.

“I was undrafted, so I never really expected to be here, to be honest,” he told an interviewer during 2012 spring training. “It was always a dream, but it never seemed like it was a reality until I had one game [in Mississippi in 2010] where everything felt good and I executed really well and I [thought], ‘I think I can make this happen.’”

Some might not think that a guy with a 12-10 career record in the majors would get ATL baseball fans all that excited, but then they haven’t seen many of Brandon Beachy’s outings. As Kris Medlen showed us in the latter half of the 2012 season, there are few things as thrilling as having a staff anchored by a young, hotshot, starting pitcher who strikes people out. You begin to have visions of Gooden and Lincecum. So, even if it’s only for a relative glimpse of greatness — as Beachy has given us — it’s tantalizing nonetheless. (Then, of course, you start considering his long-term future with the team. Earliest arb-eligible: 2014; earliest free-agent: 2017.)

Lucky for Braves fans, Beachy himself seems to realize that he has finally matched his talent with the requisite confidence. During that same spring training interview, he simply said, “I want to do great things.”

You’re not alone, Brandon. We can’t wait to see them.

64 thoughts on “Brandon Beachy (by Ububba)”

  1. Wow, Jim!

    Helluva job!

    I’m going to start a countdown clock until he’s back.

    What’s our favorite nickname for Beachy these days?

  2. “The Georgia Beach?”

    Certainly not, “Beach Ball.”

    Anyway, good job, Ububba.

    Was this written in Hawaii?

  3. Apropo of absolutely nothing…

    Embarrassing Corky Miller photos (couldn’t decide which was worse):

    I mean, why even hang on? If all you want is one last pro-rated share of $450k, and you can’t even.. control yourself. Just give it up.

  4. In addition.. Kevin Millwood has retired. He reportedly hoped to sign with the Braves or Rays, to be close to his North Carolina home, and there was no fit…

    So, I’d take that to mean there will be no starting pitcher signed.

  5. What a game last night from the Gators! Henderson was hitting EVERYTHING he threw up from 3-point range despite what I thought was really, really good defense. There a ton of calls and non-calls going Ole Miss’s way (3 FT for UF vs. 23 for Ole Miss), and UF’s guards just could not hit a 3 to save their lives.

    All that and it still turned out to be a 14-point victory for Florida. Wow. My concerns remain for this Florida team, but seeing them play that well against Ole Miss was really fun. And it’s a fun group to root for. They all just play so hard!! Kentucky’s the big challenge remaining. They’ve looked good in their past two wins, and Noel is going to make it hella hard for UF’s undersized guards to get anything done near the hoop.

    What? There’s a football game today? Oh, never mind then. :-(

  6. Great write-up, ububba! I can’t wait to see what he can do in July or August.

    Is anyone else worried about our starting rotation? Hudson is a year older, I’m not sure what to expect with Maholm, Medlen’s 2012 success will be tough to duplicate, Teheran has had his troubles, and Mike Minor is still young. Our 2012 rotation looked better on paper and look how that turned out. Maybe we’ll have a little more luck this year.

  7. I think the most impressive thing about what Wren has done this offseason is to make the team younger and cheaper without seriously damaging the overall talent of the major league club. From that perspective, the Upton trade was a masterstroke. Wren gave us all the opportunity to legitimately dream about our core of young players maturing together over the course of a year or two into a Murderers Row of speedy mashers backed by a pitching staff that makes most games 6 innings long for the opposition. All the while, Wren kept the flexibility to address at least a few of the problems that inevitably arise over the course of a season. We may need help at SP and 3B, and we know we could use another backup 1B/OF bench bat. That said, I see reason for tremendous optimism for this team.

    I can’t wait for Opening Day.

  8. @4: Sure, but Kevin Millwood could easily be the Ben Sheets of 2013 if he’s willing to stay in shape, and if we (crossing fingers hoping not) need him.

  9. Thanks, y’all.

    No, did it a few weeks ago.

    But, thanks to several overlong flights, I’m working on a couple of things that I hope will entertain somewhere along the line here.

  10. I would like to point out that my bizarre reverse mojo is still in effect on the city of Baltimore. First the O’s have a killer season, and now the Ravens are winning in the Super Bowl.

  11. ububba flashing that Grady School training — always include quotes! Good stuff — I couldn’t be more confident in Beachy’s future.

  12. Third World, backwater, piece of dung town. Someone tell me why New Orleans keeps getting Super Bowls.

  13. Third World, backwater, piece of dung town. Someone tell me why New Orleans keeps getting Super Bowls.

  14. In one year, the Braves saw three young pitchers emerge from relatively nowhere to become some of the most dominant in the game.

    Dare I hope that post-TJ Beachy adds a few mph to that rising fastball?

  15. @23 Personally, I think the Braves have been extremely fortunate with Beachy and Medlen. At the same time, you can’t just call it luck if we keep seeing the same trend.

  16. You know, I wouldn’t be as pissed if they hadn’t called a PI on a similar play on 3rd and 9 to extend the drive the Ravens eventually got a field goal off of. If you’re calling one, you absolutely have to call the other.

    On balance, the Ravens probably played better tonight. The extra TO plus the second half opening kick return were the difference. I think SF wins 7 out of 10 times these teams play, but tonight, the Ravens made the plays to win. And speaking of plays, the how on Earth was Boldin not getting the ball more prior to the playoffs? He’s been dominant this past month.

  17. I gotta say, even though the Falcons didn’t make it to the Super Bowl this year, this is one of the best NFL postseasons I’ve ever seen. This was a great Super Bowl (if not at the level of the two recent NY-NE ones), and those Ravens-Broncos and Falcons-Seahawks games were some of the best ones in NFL history.

  18. Yeah, that was a fun one. The 9-ers gave it a go in the 2nd half, that’s all you can ask for, really.

    /don’t really have anything to edit, but I just wanted to use it.

  19. The NFL is lucky that the Ravens held on to win. The 49ers were reeling until the lights went out. Had SF won, there would have been massive hell to pay from Baltimore.

  20. It was a fun game to watch. I think Colin Kaepernick may have the strongest throwing arm I have seen on a QB. I mean frozen ropes 40 yards down the field. The young man has a future.

    I don’t know if its luck. Minor, Medlen, Beachy, Teheran (we hope), Delgado (who I think will be good), Hansen, Kimbrell, Venters. Of course we don’t know if these guys will stick and have great careers, but that’s pretty good discovery and development by the organization.

  21. So I went to get opening day tickets today. The website says only crappy single game tix are onsale. I have to wait until 2/25/13, unless I want a five game pack.

    I checked a few other MLB teams, most of them will allow you to buy single game tix for any game and have been for a few weeks.

    Are we really having this big of a problem putting butts in seats?

  22. I didn’t watch any of the SB, but if the 49ers lost somewhat due to pass interference not being called on the Ravens, that seems vaguely appropriate, as they only reason SF got out of ATL was due to PI not being called on them on 4th down.

  23. The PI/holding was close. No ref in the fourth quarter of the SB is going to throw a flag there.

    They lost the game because they were dominated in the first half.

  24. The 49ers also lost because they went with some rather unimaginative play calls at the end of their last drive. IIRC they had second down on the five yard line and plenty of time to run anything they wanted. From that point forward, none of their last three plays attempted to make use of the the middle of the field.

  25. They lost because of the kickoff return for a TD they allowed despite the kick going well into the end zone.

    EDIT: Bold prediction based on what has happened in the past year: The Red Sox and the Patriots will both make the playoffs.

  26. I was pleased with the way San Francisco lost at the end, given it was almost exactly the same way our hopes ended against them. First-and-goal, stall at the five, vague thoughts of defensive holding on the last play.

  27. Also, let me just say that if there is ever another Super Bowl held in the Superdome, it’s an absolute farce. That place is a complete dump, can’t even be assured of keeping the electricity on throughout the entire game, and Atlanta can’t get another Super Bowl until their new stadium is built because of an ice storm and because Ray Lewis killed somebody in Buckhead (allegedly). I fail to recall a third-world style power outage ever happening at the Georgia Dome during the biggest sports event of the year…just saying.

  28. Actually, Nick, the Georgia Dome did have a problem during an SEC basketball championship. But an urban F 4 tornado can do that to you.

  29. @44

    Well, I’m not sure that there was much that could be done about a tornado hitting the building. Much like there wasn’t much that could be done about the ice storm or Ray Lewis’ entourage killing people (at least not on the NFL’s end, anyway). Your better argument would’ve been the time that the Georgia Dome roof caved in in the middle of the night when water pooled up on the roof becuase it wasn’t designed right, incidentally.

    Anyway, I realize I was being a little unfair. It is New Orleans, after all. My general point was that the NFL loves partying for a week in New Orleans, so they would probably play the game inside of a rusty shipping container just so they could keep going there. Same with Miami. That stadium sucks, but they’re not gonna pass up the opportunity to spend a week on South Beach, even if it is an hour from the random spot where the stadium is, so they’ll make any excuse. It’s just kind of silly.

  30. @45, In my mind, at least for a couple of reasons. Number one, it’s always better for your brand/sport if the top athletes are perceived as humane, celebrated, and humble individuals rather than monsters. Even if Ray didn’t start his career out that way, it certainly -appears- that he’s become a compassionate, kind individual (and the league is certainly going to protect that).

    Two, unlike certain other premier players in the league (for example: Brady, Manning, and Brees, all of who brought lawsuits against the league during the CBA negotiations), it seems that Lewis has not brought problems to or criticism of the league office in recent memory. The league is definitely going to protect that type of player. Roger Goodell seems to have a fanboyish crush on Lewis, and I think that it is for this reason.

    Third, the NFL (and NBA) approach the steroid issue the same as how the MLB approached it in the 90s… very hush-hush rather than with the clamor that baseball’s bumbling elephant brings. This may not be the ‘right’ way to handle the issue, but it certainly is a method that retains fan loyalty and maintains brand management the best (or so it seems, anyway). The NFL isn’t going to punish one of their most prolific, most loyal, and seemingly kindest players for any PED use or for an event that happened 13 years ago.

  31. @45

    I really don’t think they have gone out of their way to protect him on the Buckhead incident. He made his plea deal, he was convicted of a misdemeanor, there really isn’t a whole lot of evidence that he himself actually killed the guys, and he hasn’t been involved in any incidents that we know of since then. I’m not really sure what you want them to do. Even if the NFL would’ve punished him (which they might have if Roger Goodell were the commissioner at the time), his punishment would be long over by now. And no one in the NFL has said that talking about it should be off-limits. In fact, lots of people brought it up last week.

    As far as the deer antler spray, they basically just wanted it to go away. There wasn’t enough time to conduct a thorough investigation of their own, and this was the last game of his career, anyway. I don’t really think it would’ve been any different had a less popular player’s name come up in that report. If some random O-lineman for the Niners is mentioned, he’s not getting suspended for the Super Bowl, either.

  32. Ya know, I’ll throw my name in for the Millwood write-up. He was my favorite non-Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz pitcher of the 90s.

  33. Anyway, I realize I was being a little unfair. It is New Orleans, after all. My general point was that the NFL loves partying for a week in New Orleans, so they would probably play the game inside of a rusty shipping container just so they could keep going there. Same with Miami. That stadium sucks, but they’re not gonna pass up the opportunity to spend a week on South Beach, even if it is an hour from the random spot where the stadium is, so they’ll make any excuse. It’s just kind of silly.

    There is only one circumstance where the NFL will hold a Super Bowl anywhere other than warm weather, tropical locations where the owners and VIPs can golf and party during the run-up; if a city builds an NFL team a new stadium, the NFL will return gratitude to that city’s political class for raping the tax base by having one SB held there within five years of the facility opening.

  34. Well, next year’s Super Bowl will be held in E. Rutherford, N.J., in a stadium privately financed by the Jets & the Giants.

    Both teams took $650 million loans to finance the thing and, instead of fleecing taxpayers, they bang their season-ticket holders for licencing fees.

  35. I think the Super Bowl should go in this order and rotate back:

    1)Somewhere in Florida south of Jacksonville
    2)New Orleans
    3)Random site (like Indy, Atlanta, San Fran, Seattle…)
    5)Random site
    6)San Diego

  36. 1) One crappy stadium and one nice one
    2) Crappy stadium
    6) Crappy stadium

    Look, if they’re gonna put anything in London or Toronto or Tokyo or Mexico City or wherever, I’d frankly rather it be the Super Bowl than a regular season game or an actual franchise, which is silly for anywhere overseas.

  37. The NFL is lucky that the Ravens held on to win. The 49ers were reeling until the lights went out. Had SF won, there would have been massive hell to pay from Baltimore.

    Bill Barnwell effectively demolished this narrative in his redux this morning – a great piece if anyone has the time and interest.

    I’d also like to add that the game was remarkably close, despite the Ravens jumping out to that big lead. In fact, SF’s yards/play was 7.8 while Baltimore’s was 5.2. That’s probably the most important stat, and it suggests the Ravens were not, in fact, that much better than the 49ers (if at all). They basically won because of the kick return. As a 49ers-hater, I’ll take it.

    Finally, yes, I too enjoyed some delicious schadenfreude for the PI no-call on 4th down last night.

  38. So what are the chances the Walden-Hanson trade turns into Soriano-Horacio trade, version 2.0? Also, I had forgotten, but Soriano was suspended for four games (later turned to two) for hitting Dan Uggla in 2007.

  39. To the league, the most important thing about a Super Bowl isn’t so much the stadium. It’s the city & its ability to host the thing (not to mention direct flights).

    New Orleans, Miami & LA are destinations for conventions & festivals with the right amount of hotels & civic venues for events. (Jacksonville, not so much.)

    Attending a Super Bowl is not high on my priority list, but if I ever scored tickets, The Big Easy would be my choice for the trip.

  40. So Ray is headed to ESPN, ay?

    Can OJ be far behind?

    Trace @28 – absofreakinglutely. I did my sputtering buttonhook when I heard that one.

  41. Yeah, the stadium is pretty low on the list. I would imagine that in the whole context of revenue, the Super Bowl ITSELF (ticket and concession sales) is pretty low. It really boils down to how can the city maximize all the money, interest, and excitement that the whole event brings for that entire week. I read an article that the Super Bowl is the biggest sex trafficking event, which in and of itself, sadly, has far-reaching implications to city officials and the NFL at large.

  42. While we’re on the subject of New Orleans- I’ll be heading down there in a couple of months for my Honeymoon! And Jazzfest! I just know that the worldly folks around here would love to clue me in on the sights, venues, and (especially) eats to be found. The less well known the better- I’m not a stranger to the city, but I haven’t been there in years and never knew it intimately.

  43. Is it weird that I’ve heard 10x as many comments about Lewis’s legal troubles since the PED thing became a story? It’s like allofasudden people realized it was okay to not deify Lewis. For four solid weeks of playoffs, everything was about how great of a leader/dancer he was, BUT WAIT THERE’S DEER ANTLER IN HIS TONGUE, and now it’s okay to talk about/joke about how he helped his buddies avoid conviction in a double murder.

    And I completely agree with @57 on all points. I said immediately after the game, I think SF wins 7 out of 10 times those teams play, but the Ravens were better due to the turnover differential and the special teams play. You could also look at Red Zone success, where the 49ers repeatedly failed to get the ball in the endzone from close in. Both of their FGs were inside 40 yards (ie, within 23 yards of the endzone), and of course there was that last drive. It was a really close game and a great Super Bowl.

    Now, how about that outfield?

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