With the now-dreaded month of September looming on the Atlanta Braves schedule, manager Fredi Gonzalez is trying to figure out the best way to keep the arms fresh in both the starting rotation, and the bullpen. One option being considered is a six-man starting rotation once the September roster expansion happens.
So who would the Braves go with? The Braves have nine potential starting pitchers on the roster who could be used.
There is really only one name who is a sure-fire starter in any rotation the Braves put together, and that’s Tim Hudson. After that, you can put a question mark by just about everyone else.
Tommy Hanson? Yes, he’s had a good season, but his all too familiar late season slide has started to happen, and he fighting a nagging back injury. Hanson has to prove he’s got gas left in the tank, and that he can rise to the challenge of the big games. Chance he’s in – 85%
Paul Maholm? Although he’s only been with the team for a few weeks, his last seven starts with the Chicago Cubs and his first two starts with Atlanta – including a complete game shutout against the New York Mets – should warrant a spot in the rotation for Maholm. Chance he’s in – 80%
Ben Sheets? He started off like wildfire, going 3-0 and only giving up one earned run in his first three starts. But in his last three starts, he’s gone 1-2 and has given up eight earned runs. Now that teams have seen some film on Sheets this year, it could be that he’s not hard to figure out. But he’s a gamer, and can give you solid innings. Chance he’s in – 75%
Mike Minor? It’s been a roller-coaster year for Minor, who started off pitching horribly, and was well on his way to a demotion to Triple-A Gwinnett. He seemed to be putting it all together in July, but the confidence level still isn’t high when he’s on the mound. A 4.93 ERA isn’t going to get you many September and October starts. Chance he’s in – 50%
Kris Medlen? It’s the opinion of many that Medlen should have been in the starting rotation from the beginning of the season. Since coming out of the bullpen (where he was nearly unhittable) he has been stellar in the rotation. Unfortunately, he may have made himself too indispensable in the long/mid-relief role. Chance he’s in – 50%
Jair Jurrjens? Terrible spring. Terrible start to the season. Sent down to the minors. Used sparingly when he came back up. Now on the disabled list. Frankly I’m surprised he’s still in a Braves uniform. Chance he’s in – 30%
Randall Delgado? For the most part it’s been a “good start – bad start” year for Delgado, which is to be expected from young pitchers. There have been times he looked polished and sharp, and then five days later, he looked lost on the mound. He still has a lot of work to do on his mechanics. Chance he’s in – 30%
Julio Teheran? He’ll be a late-season call-up when the rosters expand. The Braves may want to get a few looks at his arm in the big leagues, but it will more than likely come out of the bullpen. Not likely to see him securing a spot, even in an expanded rotation. Chance he’s in – 20%
No matter who Fredi Gonzalez picks, he’s got to be sure to keep his bullpen arms fresh and ready to avoid another September disaster like the Braves had in 2011, so he needs to consider not only who has been pitching well, but also who can log more than 5-6 innings per start. It’s going to be tough to balance out with so many guys who have been unpredictable all season in their starts.
My ideal rotation would be (in this order) Hudson, Maholm, Hanson, Medlen, Sheets, and Minor.