ATLANTA — A month ago, the Atlanta Braves were wondering what to do with all their starting pitchers. Now they’re wondering who’s going to start.
Three players who were in the starting rotation last month are on the disabled list. Mike Foltynewicz (right elbow soreness), Williams Perez (right rotator cuff soreness) and John Gant (left oblique) are all on the sidelines.
When you add the demotion of Aaron Blair, who was sent to Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday, there are plenty of holes to be filled in the Atlanta rotation.
As a result, the Braves will start Joel De La Cruz in Wednesday’s series finale against Cleveland against right-hander Danny Salazar (8-3, 2.23).
De La Cruz will be making his major league debut. He was signed as a minor league free agent in November and has spent all season with Triple-A Gwinnett. De La Cruz began the season in the bullpen, but was moved to the rotation and has a 2.16 ERA over his last four starts. Overall he’s 1-3 with a 4.68 ERA in 21 games.
De La Cruz pitched eight innings against Charlotte in his most recent start.
"I talked to the guys and he’s stretched out and good to go," Snitker said. "He’s been up here a couple times and hasn’t pitched. We’re going to put him to work."
Salazar will make his 15th start of the season in Cleveland’s final appearance at Turner Field. Salazar (9-3, 2.40) has second-best ERA in the American League. He has faced the Braves only one time, going four innings and allowing two earned runs in his fifth career start. Salazar is 1-5 with a 4.07 ERA in nine career interleague starts.
Foltynewicz will make one more rehab start with Triple-A Gwinnett before he is activated. He threw five scoreless innings and allowed one hit last week.
Perez isn’t like to be ready to return until the All-Star break and Gant is expected to miss no less than a month. The organization would like to see Blair get three to five starts in Triple-A before he is returned to the majors.
Cleveland got a bit of good news on the injury front when manager Terry Francona reported that outfielder Michael Brantley has been hitting balls off a tee.
Brantley has been sidelined with a sore shoulder since May 10. He had a cortisone shot and rested for five days before resuming activity. He has been taking 50-55 swings off the tee and his progress will be reassessed when the team returns to Cleveland.
"He didn’t feel anything other than feeling good," Francona said. "We’ll have more of a schedule after we get off this trip."
Brantley is hitting .231 with seven RBIs in 11 games.