The Atlanta Braves currently have more pitching talent than can fit in their starting rotation.
Because of this, the Braves are going to use a six-man rotation for the remainder of August. This is a very good idea, as it will allow the starters to get rest, and hopefully prevent any further injuries to the staff.
However, at the end of the two weeks, the Braves will return to a rotation of five starters, and have to make the decision of who will remain a starter and who will be sent to the bullpen.
According to ESPN, Fredi Gonzalez said that the best and healthiest five pitchers will be kept in the starting rotation.
If the six-man rotation serves its purpose and keeps all of the Braves starters healthy, this choice may be fairly difficult.
All six of the Braves’ current starters, for the most part, have been pitching excellently of late. However, throughout the season, some have been more consistent than others.
As the season comes nearer to its finish, and the race for the playoffs becomes more heated, it is all the more important that the Braves have their best starter on the mound.
Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, and Ben Sheets have all been having very strong seasons, and without any further occurrence of injuries, could all compete to be named the ace of the Braves' rotation. It is highly unlikely that any of these three pitchers will be pulled from their starting position at the end of August, judging by their impressively consistent performance so far.
Kris Medlen seems likely to be cut from the starting rotation, as he is proven as a reliever as well as a starter. However, given the way he has recently been pitching as a starter, his abilities will be more useful to the Braves if he is a starter rather than a reliever.
In three starts this year, Medlen has a 2-0 record and an ERA of 1.62. And in 2010, before he had Tommy John surgery, as a starter he had a record of 5-0 with a 3.86 ERA.
If Medlen continues to pitch the way that he has, he will be a great asset in the starting rotation and should remain there.
Paul Maholm has also been pitching surprisingly well since the Braves acquired him at the trade deadline a few weeks ago.
In two starts, he has gone 16 innings and given up only three earned runs. If he continues his dominance that began in his final few starts with the Cubs, he should have no trouble keeping his position as a Braves starter.
So far, Mike Minor seems to be the weakest link in the Braves’ current starting pitching rotation.
In some of his outings, he has looked incredible, and in others, he has greatly struggled.
Minor currently holds a 6-9 record and a 4.93 ERA, and has given up a league-leading 23 home runs, although recently, his pitching has been very much improving.
However, he has not been consistent, and as the season continues, each game holds seemingly more weight.
An important question to ask is whether Minor will be reliable in a make-or-break game down the stretch.
It will be necessary to see how all of the current starting pitchers for the Braves fare in the next two weeks. If this decision had to be made now, though, Minor would likely be the top candidate to be cut from the starting rotation.