Braves name Hanson opening day starter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Tommy Hanson’s spring training was a wreck (literally) at the beginning, but impressive in the middle and satisfying at the end. On Saturday the right-hander was named the Braves’ opening day starter.

“I’m real excited — it’s a huge honor,” said Hanson, who was told by manager Fredi Gonzalez on Saturday morning, a few hours before his final Grapefruit League start against Detroit. “I wasn’t really expecting it, so when I found out I was really excited and I’m definitely looking forward to it. It’s a pretty big deal.”

He allowed five hits and two runs in six innings of a rain-shortened 2-1 loss to the Tigers, and was pleased with the progress of the sinker he’s worked on and threw extensively for the first time in a game. Hanson had no walks and one strikeout, threw 52 strikes in 80 pitches, and will finish the spring with a 2.77 ERA in three official starts.

“All through camp I felt good,” he said. “Today I was working a lot on two-seamers [sinkers] and I felt really good with that. Just throwing another pitch into my arsenal. All my pitches feel really good. I feel like I’m ready for the season.”

He will start the season opener Thursday against the Mets at New York and be followed in the Braves rotation by Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy, with either Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran expected to be named the fifth starter before the Braves break camp Monday.

Barring rainouts or unexpected developments, Jurrjens is in line to start the April 13 home opener vs. Milwaukee. Jurrjens is 2-2 with a 5.81 ERA in six spring starts, including 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his past two.

“I actually didn’t expect to start opening day; I thought JJ [Jurrjens] would,” Hanson said. “But either way, JJ’s going to get the home opener so that’s pretty cool, too.”

Gonzalez said he went with Minor in the third spot because he wanted the Braves’ only left-handed starter to pitch in the opening three-game series against a Mets lineup that will likely have three or four left-handed hitters.

Teheran’s final spring start is Sunday against the Phillies. Neither he nor Delgado has excelled this spring — Teheran has a 9.00 ERA and .345 opponents’ average in four games (two starts) and Delgado is 1-4 with a 7.89 ERA and .308 opponents’ average in six games (five starts).

Kris Medlen (0.82 ERA) has outperformed both rookies, but the Braves are planning on Medlen in the bullpen, where they have a greater need than expected after Arodys Vizcaino had season-ending elbow surgery and others have either underperformed and/or been injured.

The fifth starter should be needed for only three or four starts before veteran  Tim Hudson returns as soon as the last week of April. He’s recovering from back surgery and will make his spring debut Monday against the Mets in the Grapefruit League finale (he’ll start and pitch two innings)

After missing time with a Grade 1 concussion, Hanson had three official Grapefruit League starts, had one other rained out in the second inning, and pitched five innings of two-hit ball Monday in a minor league game on the Braves’ day off.

“He’s pitched good,” said Gonzalez, who waited longer than usual to announce an opening day starter. “We were kind of leaning that way [Hanson] the whole time before spring [training] started.”

The Braves waited to make sure Hanson had time to get ready after he missed more than a week recovering from a concussion sustained in a one-car accident Feb. 20 while driving to the first day of spring training.

His March 11 spring debut was rain-soaked and called before he recorded an out in the second inning, so Hanson’s official first start wasn’t until March 16, when he gave up two runs in three innings against Houston.

He made big strides from there, limiting the Nationals to one hit and one walk in four innings on March 21 and pitching five strong innings on Monday against the Astros’ Triple-A lineup.

70 comments Add your comment

TheOnlyBravesFan

March 31st, 2012
1:41 pm

Buddy Greene

March 31st, 2012
1:41 pm

not going to do it…i figured minor was pitching more like a 3 then beachy this spring

jim

March 31st, 2012
1:41 pm

The blogs just keep on coming. It doesn’t seem there are many people hanging out on either one of them today.

TheOnlyBravesFan

March 31st, 2012
1:41 pm

Finally, cap-tipping Fredi has done a good thing. Go get ‘em Big Red and go Braves!!!

Got ya

March 31st, 2012
1:42 pm

phil

March 31st, 2012
1:45 pm

phil

March 31st, 2012
1:46 pm

None of these April games even matter….

According to posters last year.

will

March 31st, 2012
1:57 pm

where’s huddy

Sparks

March 31st, 2012
2:05 pm

Screwing up not starting Medlen…just sayin.

TPM

March 31st, 2012
2:07 pm

I’m not excited about this pitching staff at all. This looks like a 75 win team.

Rufio

March 31st, 2012
2:09 pm

Sparks is right. Medlen should be starting instead of being in the bullpen. I guess the Braves have forgotten that you reward succes

Eastside Rambler

March 31st, 2012
2:12 pm

let’s go Braves! Can’t wait for the season to get cranking. looking forward to a winning season for the Braves and ol’ Chip!

John A.

March 31st, 2012
2:33 pm

Looks like Fredi is rewarding underachievers. Hanson hasn’t demonstrated he should be an opening day pitcher. Medlen has demonstrated he belongs in the starting rotation, but Hat Tipping Fredi still believes he belongs in the pen. Why is Delgado and Trehan still considered for starting? Both belong in the pen for long relief in games that are out of hand, and only good for experience.

Fellow fans… WE HAVE SERIOUS PROBLEMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nativebird

March 31st, 2012
2:42 pm

If Jason Heyward doesn’t become a big time major leaguer this year this team and this rotation is all for naught. This team needs power…..has for about 4 years now. All else is deck chairs.

Weaseal

March 31st, 2012
2:44 pm

See Haircuts pay off gotta look like the man -Go Tommy !!!

Jay Dubu

March 31st, 2012
2:50 pm

Absent of Hudson, (and who knows how he’ll be able to perform this year after a third sugery/injury in three seasons) the Braves do not have a #1 starter.

Delgado and Teheran have both performed below expectations, and will start in AAA, with Hernandez will get the 5th starts that happen until Hudson is back.

The Braves’ offence will struggle to score runs again this year, and that’s why Medlen will remain in the bullpen, to take some of the pressure off of the the big 3.

With 3 long relief pitchers, Medlen, Hernandez, and C-Mart, Fredi will not have to overuse the big 3 in all the close games that the Braves play.

Brent

March 31st, 2012
2:51 pm

Hey TPM – what is not exciting about the Braves rotation this year? Minus Lowe, it’s the same as last years. Minor will be better than Lowe for sure.

Moylan Prado

March 31st, 2012
2:58 pm

The Braves NEED Medlen in the pen. NOT to be a long reliever if the starter only goes three, that is Martinez’s and possibly now Hernandez’s job. Medlen is the fourth best reliever in the pen right now which means he will see alot of action in the late innings so the Untouchables are not overused. We cannot afford to waste him as merely a fifth starter. He has a ton more value in the bullpen.

Orange Brave f/k/a Billy Jack's BBQ

March 31st, 2012
3:16 pm

I predict we will see Med’s starting by 5/1. Too much talent. Problem is we will blow 4 or 5 games before we will figure it out.

double

March 31st, 2012
3:18 pm

Errors and Excuses.About to accelerate.

splendid splinter

March 31st, 2012
3:22 pm

I gotta agree with NativeBird. The pitching would probably be good enough if they could hit. I haven’t seen anyone who can hit yet. If they can’t score runs, they can’t win. 0-1 and 1-2 in the runs box are still losses not moral victories.

Bravothusiast

March 31st, 2012
3:22 pm

Agree with Moylan Prado. Medlen is going to thrive in the pen. Plus fastball and plus curve, can go multiple innings. I don’t think his change is good enough for a starting role, and in the pen, it doesn’t need to be a plus pitch. He can fool hitters enough with his fastball/curve combo the first time through the lineup. Freddi needs to get away from using the big 3 in every game. Stretch O and Venters out a little more and have them pitch more than just one inning – that way you don’t have to use all 3 of them all the damn time. It’s not about innings pitched, it’s about number of appearances, that is what wears you out as the season progresses. Livan should be the 5th starter. It’s a role he is more than capable of filling until Huddy comes back. I think folks are making too big of a deal about it – it’s only 3 or 4 starts. Need to go ahead and get Medlen ready for the pen, no sense in stretching him out to be a starter for a month only to stick him back in the pen.

Wren and Freddi.....roflmao

March 31st, 2012
3:34 pm

That stink ur smellin is the 4th place finish in our division this year. PLEASE Ted…..buy the Braves back.

Braves Fan for 55 yrs

March 31st, 2012
3:35 pm

Turned the Braves game on about 1:10 today and Chip Caray was announcing so I immediately turned to the golf channel. I refuse to watch any game Mr. EGO does and I will forever boycott the sponsors.
Still a Braves fan but not a paying customer as long as CC does the TV games.

bvillebaron

March 31st, 2012
3:41 pm

Bravothusiast:

Now why you you go and post something rationale and try to confuse all these experts like John A., Phil, Sparks, etc.?

Fastball

March 31st, 2012
3:54 pm

You know, I think Chipper should be the player/manager.

Fastball

March 31st, 2012
3:54 pm

Old Dawg Fan

March 31st, 2012
3:54 pm

After the “big choke” last year who really cares if they even play a game??!!!

BluesMan

March 31st, 2012
4:07 pm

Hey DOB, thanks for all you do for keeping us on the up & up of what’s going on w/ the Braves. Given that you like music; have you heard of Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real? It’s Willie’s son. Here’s a new tune…it’s pretty cool.
http://youtu.be/lp4b1vMyO6s

JNick

March 31st, 2012
4:56 pm

@Bravothusiast, Medlen has a plus changeup – it’s his best pitch. Curve is coming along. He would be more valuable as a starter, throwing MORE innings, as opposed to a mop-up role in the bullpen, as you suggested. If a starter only goes 3 innings, chances are we’re down 6-0 or worse. So…he’s not helping us win, just helping us not lose worse. If he starts and goes 6 innings, giving up 1-3 runs, he’s giving us a chance to win. Rational thinking…

Greg

March 31st, 2012
5:08 pm

Don’t quite know why Medlen (who’s surely the better pitcher) can’t start, while Delgado or Teheran does the long relief. This is something of a puzzle. Hey Dave…try to dig a bit on this one.

JNick

March 31st, 2012
5:22 pm

@Greg, exactly. Delgado/Teheran do fine for about 3-4 innings before imploding (seems they can make it through the lineup once before the other team makes adjustments). It WOULD make sense to put your starter out there who can throw 6 innings without putting the team in a 5-0 hole, as opposed to the kid(s) who go out and pitch 3-4 innings and leave after giving up 6 runs….but hey, no one ever said you have to have common sense to be an MLB manager…

Ted M

March 31st, 2012
5:34 pm

Bravothusiast

March 31st, 2012
5:36 pm

JNick you may be right and I have my pitches mixed up. Either way, 2 plus pitches = reliever in my book. I never said he would have a mop up role, rather, that he would help the big 3 in key situations out of the pen so that you wouldn’t have to use them every single time. I think he provides a lot of value in that role. It’s either the pen, or you kick Minor or Beachy out of the rotation, and I think Minor/Beachy are better starters than Medlen. Look, I think he’s a great pitcher, but he doesn’t belong in the starting rotation, at least not when you have better options IMO.

Bravothusiast

March 31st, 2012
5:38 pm

JNick, you are right about the curve vs. change http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=9417&position=P#pitchtype

my mistake

Jack G

March 31st, 2012
5:41 pm

Those 4 or 5 games you blow early in the season count just as much as the meltdown in Sept.—-look at what just one of those games would have meant last year. If Fredi would quit trying to manage like Bobby we would be better off.

Bravothusiast

March 31st, 2012
5:42 pm

Greg, you’re talking about somebody who’s going to fill a role for a month, tops. Why try to stretch Medlen out to be a starter only to have him go back to the pen and change his conditioning to pitch every other day? Medlen is the better option over Delgado/Teheran, but I think that’s why we got Livan, to fill the temp 5th starter role til Huddy comes back.

JNick

March 31st, 2012
5:44 pm

I think I’m the only one pushing for a 6-man rotation when Hudson comes back….

Bravothusiast

March 31st, 2012
5:46 pm

Jack, you’re right, those 4 or 5 games are important. But you’re not taking into account the fact that in that time, Medlen could help you out in maybe 10 or 12 games coming out of the pen. It’s a tough call, but I still think you go with Livan as the temp #5 and have Medlen help you in the pen, possibly making the pen a lot stronger in Sept/Oct when the games mean a lot more.

Bravothusiast

March 31st, 2012
5:48 pm

A 6 man rotation is ridiculous. You would take 5 or 6 starts away from Hanson, JJ, Minor & Beachy; and 3 or 4 starts away from Huddy… ridiculous

JNick

March 31st, 2012
5:48 pm

If you look at Japan, they use a 6 man rotation – each pitcher makes less starts overall, but in the end, throws more pitches per start/more innings per start. They also have less instances of arm injuries over there…

JNick

March 31st, 2012
5:53 pm

Hudson was the only one to throw over 200 innings last year. Minor was #2 with about 180 innings combined. The pitchers are taking themselves out of games with injuries. Given that, other than Minor, each of our pitchers are coming off of A) injuries or B) throwing less than 150 innings last year (or both), it’s NOT ridiculous one bit. Take a look at the Japanese pitchers that come over here to throw – they all end up getting hurt and/or not adjusting well to the US “style”. Face it, pitchers today are less durable, for whatever reason. A 6 man rotation would best utilize the 6 pitchers we have who are best suited for starting, maximizing their innings pitched – that’s more important than the number of starts they make.

JNick

March 31st, 2012
5:54 pm

And the deeper our starters go, the less-abused our bullpen is…

Bravothusiast

March 31st, 2012
6:01 pm

Agree to disagree I guess. I still want the better starters starting more games.

Medlen for #5 Starter

March 31st, 2012
6:08 pm

How can Medlen be more valuable pitching only 1 or 2 relief innings every 2 or 3 days than starting and going 6 or 7 innings every 5 days? The math is simple. Hernandez is now long relief/mop up and Martinez is there to add fourth arm to back of bullpen. This is a no brainer. Medlen should start. Need to trade Teheran or Delgado for top line OF before folks figure out that neither one is all that dominant. Go Braves!

Bravothusiast

March 31st, 2012
6:26 pm

“Need to trade Teheran or Delgado for top line OF before folks figure out that neither one is all that dominant.”

100% agree with that. Should have traded Delgado and JJ last year.

“How can Medlen be more valuable pitching only 1 or 2 relief innings every 2 or 3 days than starting and going 6 or 7 innings every 5 days?”

It’s not that simple. You have to take into account who would replace Medlen in the pen. Knowing Fredi, probably nobody, the big 3 would just get overworked. You also have to consider Medlen having to change his conditioning from being a starter to being a reliever – there’s injury risk there. Also, it’s only for a month. The right baseball move is to have Medlen be a reliever to begin with if that’s what you think his role will be at the end of the year. It’s Medlen in the rotation w/ less rest for your pen vs. Livan in the rotation w/ more rest for your pen. Big picture, planning for the playoffs, etc.

Medlen for #5 Starter

March 31st, 2012
6:39 pm

Martinez has been very good when given chance in meaningful relief role. He is the fourth arm for back end of pen to take stress off Oventbrel. How many times does a team actually come back to win when starter flames out early and Medlen goes for long relief stint? Not often. Medlen give us best chance to win a game.

alanfalcon

March 31st, 2012
7:02 pm

Good showing today espically when only a few starters were in and Tommy looked pretty good.

katherine

March 31st, 2012
7:23 pm

LOL wow….you all are right where you left off last season….doom and gloom….maybe they shouldnt even play the season..just cancel it because all the bloggers on the ajc say they suck and are going to be losers

buster brave

March 31st, 2012
7:39 pm

to BRAVOTHUSIAST, when a dumbass like you makes a statement,”i don’t think his change up is GOOD ENOUGH for a starting roll”, tells me all i need to know about your ability to think. Medlen’s OUTPITCH is his change up,and one of the best on the staff,that is precisely what makes him a starting pitcher.if you paid any attention before he was hurt,was the best starter at the time on the Braves. go back to cheerleading or whatever it is you do

Fredi Gonezalez

March 31st, 2012
8:31 pm

I don’t even like this team. We’ll win 80 games and I’ll get another season of $4 million for doing almost nothing. You suckers.

Jack Lill

March 31st, 2012
8:33 pm

I have not written anything about Medlen, but he should be a starter over some of the struggling starters

gotigers72

March 31st, 2012
8:34 pm

If Hanson is going to start Thursday, why did he go 6 innings today? Because Thursday will be 3 days rest. I’m sure there’s a reason, but I don’t understand, especially with a guy coming back from a small tear somewhere in his shoulder.. I thought 4 days rest was the norm, even for pitchers that went 6 innings.

Kris

March 31st, 2012
8:47 pm

The issue here isn’t whether Medlen should be starting as a 5th starter. He should be starting as a number 2 starter behind Hanson period. When will the braves management gain common sense like the SF Giants do with their starters? Sigh..

Largo

March 31st, 2012
8:51 pm

Doesn’t Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday add up to four days rest? Am I missing something?

Kris

March 31st, 2012
8:52 pm

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, that’s 4 days rest according to my calculation gotiger72

phil

March 31st, 2012
8:53 pm

phil

March 31st, 2012
8:54 pm

Those bums don’t need any rest….

Bloated, overpaid, lazy.

katherine

March 31st, 2012
9:13 pm

well arent you a ray of sunshine phil ;)

Zing

March 31st, 2012
10:37 pm

I think it’s a mistake not to give the 5th starter role to Medlen. Which is more important? Erratic work as a long reliever or a starter? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question. The long reliever is usually the barrel-scraping position in the bullpen. Leave that to Christhian Martinez. Medlen has shown that he’s got what it takes and was dominant in spring training, so why would you just give away those 4-5 games in April? I’ve been a defender of Gonzalez in the past, but this one… makes you scratch your head. It’d be one thing if Delgado or Teheran had shown some ML chops in ST, but they didn’t…

Zing

March 31st, 2012
10:37 pm

By the way, I truly hope that Delgado or whoever posts like a 0.11 ERA and goes 4-0… prove me wrong, please!

Not Panicking....yet

March 31st, 2012
11:15 pm

For all of those worrying about the pitching, just remember that it’s till Spring Training. For those that still want to say we should be pitching better, note that Doc Halladay is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA. Anybody want to bet he is a better pitcher than that?

wayn-o

April 1st, 2012
12:48 am

Fredi needs to grow some testicular fortitude and make some tough decisions, you know, that thing that you get paid millions of dollars to do. Make the smart decision instead of being nice.

hop

April 1st, 2012
2:48 am

the braves will not spend the money to beef up the hitting ,while the rest of the national league East will be much improved.

We sat on our A** and did nothing during the off-season . At best it is a make-shift lineup that does not strike any “FEAR” in our opponents,especially in the EAST.

I would suspect there will be a fire-sale at the end of the year with the club up for sale and little

prospect of getting a progressive owner to reshape the club.

the braves will be the new kansas city of the national league!

Steve

April 1st, 2012
3:10 am

You do not make one of your top 5 starters a middle reliever. Ever. Period!

It’s called being STUPID. It’s like pitching a one game tie-breaker to get into the playoffs and saving your most dominant pitcher for game 1 instead of running him out. You are basically saving one of your best pitchers for ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, and ‘buts’.

Last year are long relievers were Linebrink, Varvaro, Vizcaino, and Martinez,Gearrin and a few others subbing in occasionally. Guess what, with the exception of Proctor those guys all did very well in their roles. None of them are great pitchers (except that Vizcaino might turn into one). Put simply, middle relief is not somewhere that you waste one of your best arms.

Do you really think Freddi is going to limit the big three on the backend just by adding Medlen. Heck no. We all know what will really happen. Freddi will overuse Medlen, pitching him four times per week for a total of five or six innings. He will still overuse the big three. What he will save on is the innings that went to other aforementioned middle relievers last year. So instead of just the big three wearing down, it will be the big four. Same story.

I am SICK of all this prospect nonsense. You never want to lose with aging vets, but Medlen is still young and controlled for a few more years. There is absolutely no reason for him not to be the fifth starter. In fact, he is probably better than Minor right now and I don’t see anyone saying anything about making Minor a middle reliever.

sowega dawg

April 1st, 2012
9:01 am

Medlin is still coming back from TJ surgery, so it may be the prudent thing to ease him in to things a bit. He is an extremely valuable member of this staff and I for one want him around during Sept-Aug so that he can be used either in the BP or as a 2 or 3 starter which could certainly be the case in light of Hudson, Jurrgens and Hanson’s recent injuries. Not a huge need for the 5 starter this early with the off days and at the beginning of a very long season. There will be as in every year, roster attrition and major adjustments will have to be made. Delgado and Teheran are both highly regarded prospects, especially Teheran, and will be fine in the 5 spot. If they struggle, guess what, Freddie can bring in Medlen, and now Hernandez, pretty decent fall back position to be in. Hopefully they will all succeed and if we need a bat we have the resources to get one. You can’t trade for quality unless you are willing to give up quality and quality pitching is the absolute best resource to have.

ronald

April 1st, 2012
9:14 am

Medlin’s success has been extraordinary. And he’s just as good now as he was pre-surgery. Some team will offer him a large free agent deal to be in the rotation when his contract is up. He’s WAAAY to good to be a middle reliever or injury/fill in spot starter.

Donovan

April 1st, 2012
9:45 am

I don’t want to sound like an pessimist, but when you are holding out a 5th starting position for either Delgado with a 7.89 ERA or Teheran with a 9.00 ERA, logic tells you that the Braves have little talent in their pitching department.
Factor in the anemic hitting component and you have the recipe for a losing season big time. These Braves have done nothing for themselves over the off season and have been fooling its fans all along.

AdirondackDave

April 1st, 2012
11:08 am

Medlin is going to be very valuable in the pen, right up there with the big three. Same if he were in the rotation… which I would have preferred. But pitching should be fine when Hudson returns.

It’s the offense that is a big-time concern and I’m disappointed that Wren hasn’t made an impact move. I think he and Fredi are keeping their fingers crossed this year and waiting for ‘13 when they should have 30m for David Wright and a power corner outfielder. I expect to see Heyward in CF full-time in ‘13.

BLK09GT

April 2nd, 2012
9:12 am

Man whoever this “Medlin” guy is we sure need to sign him to the big league team. He sounds awesome. On a serious note, I agree with everyone here basically. Medlen needs to be in the rotation and in my opinion he is our second best pitcher behind Huddy.

Add your comment