There have been rumors coming from both Dave O'Brien of the AJC and Mark Bowman of MLB.com for a little over a week that Derek Lowe's elbow is not exactly feeling up to par. Yesterday, Frank Wren acknowledged that he will have his next start skipped and that Kenshin Kawakami will be the replacement on Friday against the Marlins in Florida.
This affects the team in a couple of ways. One, we get to see what Kawakami can offer this team heading into next season. Two, as Martin Gandy of Talking Chop pointed out on his twitter earlier today, trading Lowe this offseason became even more difficult.
Lowe is owed $15 million next year and the Braves would presumably like to go younger in the rotation since he has underperformed so greatly. He is signed for two more seasons, so the team would have to eat a large portion of his contract even before this elbow injury occurred. Now that there are worries toward the end of the season, he just became that much more immovable.
With the playoffs rapidly approaching and the Braves being in prime position to make them, they have some decisions to make regarding the post-season rotation. Tim Hudson will start game one, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens will likely start games two and three in some order, with Mike Minor, Lowe, or Kawakami battling for the final spot.
Minor seems to be the best pitcher, but the Braves may decide to go with Lowe -- which would be a mistake in my opinion. This injury may change their plans and they have very little confidence, if any, in Kawakami. Lowe's elbow injury is certainly helping Minor's chances at getting a few starts this October.