I think we may see now why we were so intent on acquiring bullpen help at the trade deadline. The Braves today placed newly acquired reliever Octavio Dotel on the 15-day disabled list:
"It's not like a dangerous injury," Dotel said. "It's a muscle strain. But it doesn't let me do what I like to do."
Well, we certainly don't want to stop Dotel from doing what he likes to do. At the same time, the timing of the injury reminds me of when Dannys Baez was injured last season. After acquiring Baez two days before last year's deadline, the Braves were forced to put him on the DL on August 25th after he underwent an emergency appendectomy. Baez did not return for the rest of the year.
The injury to Dotel seems like one he can recover from and pitch again this year. Still, this is a huge blow to a bullpen that is already under a lot of stress. Here is the interesting chronology to the Dotel "injury:"
But when he attempted to warm up to enter Wednesday night's game, Dotel experienced stiffness that prevented him from throwing.
When Cox asked Dotel to assess his situation after feeling prolonged stiffness Friday, the right-handed reliever said it would likely be another three or four days before he could pitch again. At that point, the Braves opted to put him on the disabled list.
Some of the bullpen stress was eased on Friday when the team learned that Bob Wickman did not have any serious damage to his right forearm. The discomfort that Wickman felt was apparently a product of inflammation and not any kind of structural damage.
To replace Dotel in the bullpen, the Braves recalled Manny Acosta, who seems like the only pitcher on the 40-man roster who hasn't seen time in the majors this year. Acosta has appeared in 40 games this year, but he's thrown 59.2 innings, so he could be used as a long reliever if necessary. He's also served as the closer in Richmond for much of the year, compiling a 2.26 ERA to go with a 9-and-3 record with 12 saves.
I think the Braves will be thrilled when rosters expand and the Braves can recall Paronto, Ascanio, Barry, Stockman, and I'm especially eager to see Royce Ring - the power lefty we acquired in the Ledezma/Startup trade. While they will appreciate the added help in the pen, it may have to be limited to "effective" relievers, since we will likely be in the thick of a pennant race (knock wood).
By having so many pitchers making appearances in the majors this year before September 1st, the Braves will have a lot of options in the postseason. To be eligble for a postseason roster a player must make an appearance before rosters expand in September. If it happens that Acosta or Ascanio are the hot hand in the pen come the end of September, they may find themselves on the roster instead of other guys like Paronto or Yates.