When Braves reliever David Carpenter looked back at the radar gun reading in the 12th inning of Monday’s marathon game against the Phillies, he knew there was something off. The board only read 91 miles per hour. Carpenter is averaging a career-high 95.3 mph on his fastballs this season — a significant loss of velocity coupled with some discomfort in his right bicep.
The Braves did not hesitate to place Carpenter, who has served as the team’s setup man for closer Craig Kimbrel for the majority of the season, on the 15-day disabled list. Pedro Beato was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill Carpenter’s spot in the bullpen.
Carpenter and manager Fredi Gonzalez both said the move is primarily precautionary and that the injury is considered muscular, as opposed to more concerning structural damage concerning a pitcher’s ligament.
"Just before he went out he said something to Lovie (assistant athletic trainer Jim Lovell) about his bicep, and then you go out there the first couple pitches 90-91 (mph). And he’s not a 90-91 guy," Gonzalez said. "It’s never good when you see miles per hour drop, you know? And we were pushing him — well, we’ve pushed everybody the last four or five days — and so we’re calling it a strain I think," Gonzalez said. "I think in two weeks he’ll be fine."
Gonzalez was unsure if the injury will require an MRI.
Through 27 2/3 innings pitched, Carpenter owns a 4.23 ERA and 2.69 fielding-independent pitching (FIP), the latter number boosted by career-bests in strikeout and walk rates. The 28-year-old has struggled of late, running up a 5.79 ERA and .556 opponent batting average in June, but neither he nor Gonzalez believe arm discomfort has contributed to those numbers.
"I’m not gonna take (the injury) in a negative way," Carpenter said.
The Braves’ bullpen still ranks among the least-used unit in baseball (ranking 28th in innings pitched), but it’s been taxed of late due to a combination of abbreviated starts and extra-inning games. In June, the Braves’ relievers rank 11th in baseball in innings pitched in the month of June. Even in Monday night’s game where starter Julio Teheran pitched eight excellent innings, the relief corps was still saddled with four innings to work.
Carpenter’s day of unwanted news didn’t stop there, either. He was also fined an undisclosed amount by MLB for his role in the Braves-Rockies altercation last week.