Braves most hurt by spring injuries

Ranking the spring ailments based on their impact on pennant races

Updated: March 19, 2014, 11:46 AM ET
By Dan Szymborski | ESPN Insider

Kris MedlenBrad Barr/USA TODAY SportsKris Medlen's injury is an enormous blow to the Braves' playoff odds.

If you've ever seen a television medical drama, you're familiar with the standard formula. A flood of patients. Doctors yelling at each other. Arcane medical terms. Blood. Tense cliffhangers before the commercials. Real-life hospitals are nowhere near that exciting, but you wouldn't know it if you've been following baseball's injury news the last week. Four contending teams, including half of last year's division winners, lost key players to injuries that will end -- or at least seriously jeopardize -- their 2014 contributions.

When we're talking about a rebuilding team, an injury to core talent is hardly welcome, but an organization such as the Chicago Cubs or Chicago White Sox has the luxury of time. There's no player on the White Sox whose injury would seriously impact the team's chances of winning the World Series this year, which are much closer to "none" than "slim."

A team in serious contention doesn't have that time and resources to replace the lost production at a time of year where the free-agent cupboard is just about bare and no teams are completely throwing in the towel on the season.

For each of the four teams discussed here, I've ranked them from the most problematic situation to the least problematic, and tried to run down their realistic options (so no trading for Felix Hernandez or anything).


1. Atlanta Braves
Injured players (ailment):
Kris Medlen (Tommy John surgery); Brandon Beachy (possible Tommy John surgery)

The Braves have been one of the teams most familiar with Tommy John operations in recent years, with Medlen's surgery making nine such procedures for Braves pitchers since the start of the 2010 season. The biggest problem here is that the Braves simply don't have the rotation depth that they've had in recent years.