ATLANTA -- With the Braves hoping to feel out candidates for the final spots in their rotation next year, they opted to give Williams Perez a chance to make a few starts down the stretch. But two brief outings later, Perez is now dealing with what appears to be an elbow injury.
Perez's season likely came to an end when he exited during the third inning of Sunday's 10-3 loss to the Mets at Turner Field. The initial diagnosis is a right triceps impingement, but the focus will be on the right elbow when the injury-plagued starting pitcher is further evaluated on Monday.
"He's not right," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It's just one of those things where [the ball] is just not coming out."
When Perez allowed six runs in just 2 1/3 innings against the Nationals on Tuesday, the Braves hoped his inconsistent command and velocity was simply a product of the rust that had developed since he had last pitched in the Majors in June. But Snitker saw more of the same on Sunday, as the right-hander allowed five earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings.
Perez's fastball sat between 90-93 mph during the first inning and then touched 92 mph in the second inning. But everything about the game and the pitcher's health changed when Yoenis Cespedes drilled a grand slam in the third.
While throwing what proved to be a hanging curveball to Cespedes, Perez felt some elbow discomfort. He stayed in the game to face one more batter, but his actions led assistant trainer Jim Lovell and Snitker to come to the mound to remove him from the game.
"My shoulder, I think it's fine," Perez said. "I felt a little [shoulder] tightness, but I don't think that's the issue at all."
After he experienced some triceps tightness after a June 6 start in San Diego, Perez was placed on the disabled list. He made the first of three Minor League rehab starts on Aug. 22.
As the Braves evaluate how to fill their rotation over the remainder of this season, they are hopeful Matt Wisler will be able to return from a slight left oblique strain to start Tuesday night's game against the Marlins.
Thursday's scheduled off-day gives the Braves the option to skip Perez's spot during next weekend's series against the Nationals. John Gant will likely serve as Friday's starter. Mike Foltynewicz and Wisler could then start the final two games of the series on regular rest.
Aaron Blair will make a second rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday in the International League playoffs. If Blair proves to be effective, there's a strong possibility he would fit back in Atlanta's rotation the following week.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.