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Injuries hit Braves Pitching Staff

The National League East or is it the NL Least? However, you look at it the division is one of baseball’s weakest with just one team playing above .500 for the season. Over their last 10 games combined, the entire division is 20-30.

Nevertheless, the Atlanta Braves have pulled out to an 8 game lead over the second place Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals. However, the Braves will have their work cut out for them this weekend with a three game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, who have the best record in the majors.

The Braves have used a rotation of five starters the entire season and only a total of six the entire season. None of the first five would be described as an ace, with Mike Minor the best at the moment with an ERA of 2.98 over his 130 plus innings, which is 20th amongst all NL pitchers.

Overall, Atlanta’s starting rotation has an ERA of 3.67, which is the fifth best in the NL behind only the Dodgers, Reds, Cardinals and Pirates. Their pitching has been very good thus far, but it is their health that has held up through the first half of the season until now.

The injury bug finally hit the team. Paul Maholm missed his start on Thursday as he is on the disabled list due to a contusion on his wrist.

However, the big blow came on Wednesday night in Atlanta’s win versus the New York Mets. Tim Hudson collided at first base with Eric Young Jr. and broke an ankle.

Hudson will be out for the remainder of the season and that will be a big blow for the pitching staff and team, as Hudson is a leader in the clubhouse, on the field when pitching and in the dugout when in between starts.

Hudson is the veteran everyone on the team looks to and has more than 200 wins in his career.

Brandon Beachy, currently in Triple A, pitched a strong game on Wednesday, giving up a single run and could take the spot left open by Hudson.

He had the leading ERA in the NL last season when he was injured and had season ending Tommy John surgery.

His control has been suspect over his rehab starts, but he knows how to pitch in the big leagues and Atlanta needs that down the stretch.

Prior to his injury, Hudson was 8-7 with an ERA of 3.97. His ERA is the highest he has had since 2006 when he was at 4.86. However, his leadership is what will be missed most, as his production can be replaced.

For the Braves to lose their 8 game lead over the Phillies and Nationals, they would have to suffer a complete collapse and one of the two teams would need to have one of this season’s biggest surges. Both are doubtful.

Hudson will be missed both on the field and the dugout but the Braves will make the postseason and then go from there.

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