PHILADELPHIA -- When asked if he had any other choice other than to start Brandon Beachy in place of the injured Jair Jurrjens on Monday night, Braves manager Bobby Cox said, "Not for me."
Obviously, Atlanta could have opted to ask Kenshin Kawakami to make his second emergency start of the month. His first one proved disastrous when he started in place of Derek Lowe on Sept. 3 and allowed the Marlins five earned runs in three innings.
"Kawakami hasn't pitched in a long time," Cox said. "This kid [Beachy] is better prepared than he would be going out there right now."
Considering that Beachy also hadn't started since completing six scoreless innings for Triple-A on Sept. 3, Cox seemed to be characteristically protecting Kawakami.
But this seems to provide further reason to wonder if Kawakami will still factor into the Braves' plans for the 2011 season -- the final year of his three-year, $23 million contract.
Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor and Jurrjens are projected to once again fill the rotation next year. Even if Atlanta trades one of these pitchers, it could choose to fill the vacant spot with Beachy instead of Kawakami.