Projecting the Atlanta Braves' Starting Rotation in the Playoffs
The Atlanta Braves have positioned themselves to set up their starting rotation the last week of the season in preparation for the playoffs.
The one-game playoff this season will complicate the decision for manager Fredi Gonzalez.
John Smoltz told Braves.com that the Braves' best chance to advance to the World Series is to roll the dice and start Tim Hudson or Kris Medlen in Round 2.
Gonzalez has dismissed that idea and has reworked his rotation to have Medlen start the one-game playoff.
That's the right move. You have to give your team the best chance to advance.
It's well documented that the Braves have won the last 21 games that he's started. In those 21 starts he's posted a 14-0 record. In his 10 starts since joining the rotation, Medlen has an 8-0 record and an absurd 0.76 ERA.
It's no coincidence that the Braves are winning games started by Medlen.
He has pinpoint control and can locate all his pitches on the corner. His fastball has enough velocity and movement to be effective.
His change-up is his best out pitch, but he also mixes in a very good curveball.
That arsenal of pitches has been a lethal combo and makes him the best candidate to start the playoff game.
After that, the obvious choice is Tim Hudson. Hudson is coming off of an outstanding start against the Philadelphia Phillies in which he gave up just one run on two hits in seven-plus innings.
What should the Braves' Rotation Be?
Hudson has been up and down this season and has had issues in the first inning this season.
However, Hudson provides something that other pitchers on this roster lack—experience.
Hudson will not be intimidated by the moment and will battle each inning.
After Hudson, the picture becomes more cloudy.
In my mind, Mike Minor has the edge to be the third starter and deserves a shot in the postseason.
Minor's issues at the beginning of the year were walks and home runs. He has cleaned up both of those issues the last few months.
Minor has only had one start since June in which he's given up four earned runs or more. During that span, Minor has posted 11 quality starts.
Minor's consistency has been one of the reasons the Braves' play has steadied. He's earned his shot at a postseason start with his recent success.
Medlen will be available to start Game 3, but Maholm will be the Braves' No. 4 pitcher.
Maholm has had some shaky starts in September but has been an effective pitcher overall since joining the Braves.
Maholm has pitched better than Tommy Hanson, and the health of Ben Sheets is still a question mark entering the postseason.
That would give Gonzalez two right-handed starters and two left-handed starters in his playoff rotation.
A rotation of Medlen, Hudson, Minor and Maholm gives the Braves the best chance to win and advance in the postseason.
Will Gonzalez see it this way? Only time will tell.
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