2013 MLB Playoffs: Setting Up the Atlanta Braves’ Starting Rotation

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The Atlanta Braves

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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Minor has been the Atlanta Braves' No. 1 starting pitcher throughout the entire season, but he has faltered as of late, with the club losing his last three-straight starts to three different National League East rivals. After losing 2-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 6, the Miami Marlins beat him 5-2 on Sept. 11 and the Washington Nationals got to him for three first-inning runs in 6-5 defeat of the Braves in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader.

For some teams, such late-season struggles might not be a good enough reason to drop their ace starter down a slot or two in their playoff rotation, but given how well some of Minor's teammates have been pitching, I think Atlanta's best bet would be to do just that.

If nothing else, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has plenty of options to choose from, as the Braves boast one of the best rotations in the league, despite the fact that they lost veteran starter Tim Hudson to a season-ending ankle injury in late July and have had to scramble to somehow replace his experience on a day-to-day basis.

It's always interesting to see how managers line up their postseason pitching staffs, and I certainly don't envy Gonzalez' job, as not choosing Minor -- who has gone 13-7 with a 3.21 ERA -- as your top starter is a tough decision to make. However, I believe the rotation that I have come up with is the one the club should use.

Here's a look at the starting rotation I think the Braves should go with in the 2013 MLB playoffs.

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No. 1 Starter: Kris Medlen

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Since beginning the season 1-6, Kris Medlen has won 13 of his last 19 decisions to surpass Minor as the team's leader in wins. And given that he was the Braves' ace last season, he seems like the perfect choice to start the opening game of the NL Division Series.

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No. 2 Starter: Mike Minor

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Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

I nearly slid Minor all the way to the third spot in the rotation, but decided to keep him here to give the Braves a left-handed hurler to place in between their righties. Plus, it isn't like his struggles have lasted the entire season, so trusting him in Game 2 wouldn't be a bad move at all.

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No. 3 Starter: Julio Teheran

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Julio Teheran has been one of the top first-year players in all of baseball, posting a 12-8 record to go with a 3.14 ERA. That's why the 22-year-old deserves to start Game 3.

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No. 4 Starter: Freddy Garcia

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves just acquired 36-year-old starter Freddy Garcia from the Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 23, but the veteran righty has been incredible since coming to Atlanta. In four appearances -- three as a reliever and one as a starter -- he is 1-1 with a 1.32 ERA.

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Outside Looking In: Paul Maholm and Alex Wood

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Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Southpaws Paul Maholm and Alex Wood were once in contention for the final slot in the postseason rotation, but with their recent issues -- both injury-wise and pitching-wise -- they will each be relegated to bullpen spots at best.

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