Chopcast: Hudson's injury leaves void on Braves' staff

BY foxsports • July 25, 2013

ATLANTA -- Watching Tim Hudson lie on the grass near first base Wednesday night, it was clear how much he meant to this Atlanta Braves team. The veteran pitcher had fractured his right ankle after being accidentally stepped on by Mets outfielder Eric Young, who appeared as emotionally invested as anyone at Citi Field, and now the Braves season takes a drastic turn.

Hudson, who turned 38 earlier this month, was a clubhouse leader who had become a stabilizing force for an up-and-down rotation in recent weeks. It now looks as though season-ending surgery will cut short a campaign that was highlighted by yet another supra-.500 record -- his 15th consecutive season with such a distinction -- and his 200th career win.

Whether or not he'll ever pitch for the Braves again is yet to be determined, as he's due (first and foremost) to undergo surgery and rehabilitation and then is set to become a free agent at season's end.

Without question, it's an unfortunate scenario for one of the game's most respected veterans.

But the season must go on for the Braves, who now face decisions with 61 games remaining and the trade deadline fast approaching. Should the team make a deal? Who would be out there to fill the void? Is the team still a title contender with the present roster? Writers Zach Dillard and Cory McCartney join up on the Chopcast to discuss all that and more. Here are the highlights:

-- Where will the Braves miss Tim Hudson the most? At 8-7 with a 3.97 ERA, he was obviously productive this season, but are there other areas the team needs him just as much?

-- How might this affect Hudson's future in Atlanta?

-- Should the Braves explore trade options to replace his production, or is it possible to reshuffle the rotation with young arms to compensate? Who are the likely candidates the Braves could pursue? How much should the organization be willing to give up? Does a popular name like Jake Peavy make sense for the team's short-term and long-term goals?

-- Is the team "all-in" for 2013 (or should it be?)