After making just five starts in 2013, Gavin Floyd landed on the disabled list and headed in for Tommy John surgery which, obviously, put him on the shelf for the duration of the season and put his estimated return time to somewhere around mid-May of 2014. Not really the way you want to head into your walk year, is it? But the surgery was successful and all reports on his recovery have been positive. No one is jumping up and down and raving about his newly reconstructed arm, but the reports have been good. As such, Floyd was given a one-year, $4M contract by the Atlanta Braves and he will now finish his rehab under their watch. How things shake out in May, though, will be taken as they come.
Floyd owns a career 4.48 ERA with an FIP that is really no better, has an average strikeout rate (18.3-percent), and has dealt with a number of command issues throughout his career. He does have a nice five-pitch arsenal, but what he’s going to throw once he’s recovered is yet to be determined. He laid off the slider for a considerable amount of time but tried to pick it back up last year before the injury. Rehabbing under the Braves tutelage should be good for him, but the real question is, how much do the Braves really need him? The contract, which could grow to $8.5M if all incentives are reached, isn’t cumbersome at all, but with a slew of young arms ready to go, do they Braves really need him?
When the season opens, the Braves will have Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood as their likely starting five. Beachy had a couple of setbacks during his own recovery from Tommy John, but he should be more than ready to go. Minor, Teheran and Medlen have already proven themselves capable of holding down a rotation spot, and Wood looked good enough in his 77.2 innings last year to be given the opportunity to be the team’s fifth starter. If there were any concerns though — whether it was over Beachy’s health and ability or Wood’s inexperience, surely there was another veteran arm out there that could have a more immediate impact if needed. Should either pitcher falter in the early goings of the season, Floyd is not the cavalry riding in for the save.
On top of not being ready until after the first month and a half of the season, the Braves know as well as anyone that there is no guarantee that he’ll be able to perform up to task once given clearance to make a big league start. From watching guys like Beachy, or take Kansas City’s Danny Dufffy as another recent example, not every pitcher goes out after such extensive surgery and can actually pitch effectively. There are going to be struggles and there will be a number of starts needed before he is even back at the regular Gavin Floyd-level, not super-rebuilt Gavin Floyd-level. You almost have to cast aside the entire first half of the season and hope that he comes back strong after the All Star break.
Perhaps that’s actually the plan for the Braves overall. By the time Floyd can be trusted on the mound, Wood will have his innings capped and rather than go out onto the trade market for a starter, the team will already have a veteran arm in-house. It would certainly make sense, at least if you believe in Floyd; if you think that he can be something close to what he was back in 2008.
But since this is RotoGraphs and we talk fantasy, let’s just sum it up real quick here. No, he is not someone to target in your draft and stash away for the second half. There is nothing in his numbers that says “big things will come” and expecting anything more than what he’s produced over the last few years would be a disservice to your fantasy team. He may be worth a waiver pick-up at some point in the second half, but even then, you’d want to see him do something positive before even making the claim. Nothing worse than wasting waiver priority or FAAB dollars on a guy who won;t ever see your starting lineup. The Braves may have done themselves right when they cheaply added a potential late-season stash, but just becuase it may work in the real world, doesn’t mean it will work in fantasy.
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