Braves to employ six-man rotation – updated

After kicking around the idea for about a week, the Braves decided to go through with it, and plan to use a six-man pitching rotation when Tommy Hanson returns from the disabled list for a Friday start against the Dodgers.

A lot can change before then, but as of Monday manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves plan to go with six starters twice through the rotation until an off day Aug. 30. Then the Braves would go back to the traditional five-man rotation for September.

This way, in the midst of 20 consecutive games, he can build in an extra off day for each of the starters in addition to keeping Kris Medlen in the rotation, where Medlen has had undeniably good results since moving in from the bullpen.

“With our situation right now at this stage of the season and some of our health concerns…we’re going to do it,” Gonzalez said. “…We need to be able to go into September with all the cylinders hitting and everybody healthy and this is one way to keep those guys healthy.”

Tim Hudson has been pitching for two months with bone spurs in his left ankle. Ben Sheets is six starts into his comeback from two years out of baseball following two extensive operations on his elbow. And Hanson has had his back flare up twice in the past month, starting at the All-Star break.

Hanson will be followed by Sheets and Mike Minor against the Dodgers, and Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm and Medlen will pitch against the Nationals. Gonzalez said come Aug. 31 against the Phillies, the Braves will return to a traditional five-man rotation.

“Then we’ll go with our best five, whichever the best five are,” Gonzalez said. “Or the healthiest five.”

As for the immediate roster decision, the Braves won’t have to make that until Friday when they activate Hanson. They haven’t decided whether to go short a bullpen arm or a position player.

“We’re still kicking that around,” Gonzalez said. “I would like to keep the bullpen intact just because of that reason: somebody goes three (innings) and you’ve got a bullpen arm short, now we’re back to square one. But we’re still working through it.”

Medlen was the most obvious choice to return to the bullpen, given his history as a reliever, but keeping him in the rotation is affirmation of how effective he’s been. He is 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA in three starts since rejoining the rotation.

The Braves have won 16 of Medlen’s last 17 starts, dating back to 2010 after he moved into the rotation for an injured Jair Jurrjens and before he tore his elbow ligament. That stretch includes 14 straight wins for the Braves.

“I just accepted my role,” Medlen said. “Whatever skill set I have, try to apply it to whatever I’m doing on the mound, whether it’s starting or relieving. I just try to stay aggressive and stay confident and try to get guys out.”

The key now will be for each of the starters to work deep into games. Since the beginning of August, Braves starters have pitched at least six innings in eight of 11 games entering Monday night. Of the three short outings, one was caused by a rain delay when Mike Minor pitched on Aug. 2, and one on Aug. 5 was when Medlen went 5 1/3 innings as he continued to build up his arm.

“Obviously you’re borrowing from the bullpen,” Medlen said. “But if we stay pretty consistent, which we have been going deeper into games and helping the bullpen out, it shouldn’t be that big of a problem.”

Lineup watch

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez originally planned to give Chipper Jones a rest day Monday night against the Padres, but the veteran third baseman wanted back in the lineup. Jones missed Friday night’s game in New York unexpectedly after waking up with a stiff back. Gonzalez said he would rest Jones another game in this series against the Padres, possibly Tuesday or Wednesday.

Simmons update

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was hopeful after a being examined by hand specialist Dr. Gary Lourie on Monday evening that he could begin some light throwing soon. Simmons has been doing physical therapy for more than a week now since he had the cast removed on his right hand. He’s not likely to return to action from a fractured fifth metacarpal until early September.

“I can pretty much do everything with it,” said Simmons, who was still wearing a splint on Monday. “It’s still a bit sore, have got to stretch it out a bit still but feels great.”

50 comments Add your comment


August 13th, 2012
5:11 pm

Sheets is going to be the odd man out..Thinking that dead arm period may be creeping… Been awesome watching him pitch though. Mike Minor has come on so strong. Just hope he keeps it up!

No. 1 Braves Fan

August 13th, 2012
5:12 pm

Good move by Fredi. Cannot hurt for a short period and will help determine who are the best 5 to go into September with. Being short one bench player will not hurt.


August 13th, 2012
5:20 pm

Send Pastornicky down because they never play him anyways


August 13th, 2012
5:25 pm

Heck, if all 6 are pitching well after 9/1, why not continue with the 6-man rotation, keeps pitchers well rested and with expanded rosters, there will be plenty of relief pitching and position player subs.

Teddy B

August 13th, 2012
5:31 pm

Sheets is just knocking the rust off. He had 5 quality starts before last night. Just because ESPN guys were talking about him having a ‘dead arm’ doesn’t mean that is the case. They like to speculate on everything that’s why they get paid the big bucks. ESPN=Rumors n’ Gossip.

If you were out of the game for 2 years I bet it would take a little bit to get rolling again, Sheets came back steaming and just had a little cool down, but it happens to the best of em. He’s given us some great starts up until last night, hopefully that was just the exception and he keeps doing a great job in the future. His comeback story is very awesome and I hope he gets out of the funk and dominates again.

If Sheets doesn’t win any more games then yeah I’ll agree his arm is dead, but until then he’s doing a great job and coming along nicely. Can’t win em all, and you’re bound to hit a wall at some point when your coming back from 2 years away from baseball all together. Better he deals with it now than on down the stretch when the Braves have to play as hard as they can to catch the gNats..


August 13th, 2012
5:32 pm

Good decision, good move in the Braves current situation. Thanks to Jeff Schultz for getting this ball rolling, it certainly didn’t originate in the fertile mind of Fredi.


August 13th, 2012
5:44 pm

I think this is a great idea. All six have really deserve to get the chance. Wanna pitch in the postseason? Well they all have the chance to prove it and no matter what goes on I think they should keep the 6 man even after this stretch. As mentioned above, sept 1 is the call up date, so you would really only have to play 1 player short for about 10 days. With the long men the braves already have in the bullpen they should be able to get by without 1 guy.


August 13th, 2012
5:44 pm

A couple of months ago Minor looked to be all but done. Now they’re talking a six-man rotation, instead of kicking him out at first chance.

Way to turn things around, kid.


August 13th, 2012
5:47 pm

Great move and it will go along way through the post season.

Ted M

August 13th, 2012
6:00 pm

“At that point, Gonzalez said he will go with the best five starters” … that’s a novel idea. Too bad he didn’t do that last year when he kept sending Lowe out there.


August 13th, 2012
6:05 pm

Good move……only question is…..what if Hudson has two very bad games? Hopefully and probably not. Will you move Hanson out if he continues to struggle? Tough decision ahead.

I agree with comments about MInor. I think most fans are pulling for him.

Got to love the competition that has been given to these starting pitchers. I think Fredi and our coaches have made the right decision.

lee maye

August 13th, 2012
6:16 pm

Why wouldn’t you move Hanson out if he is the worst pitcher? This is the time to win, not worry about egos. Wait, they still aren’t considering moving Uggla out even though it is time to win. But, Uggla is Fredi’s boy. Struck out 3 more times last night. So much for the “he is on a hot streak”. Hitting .216 and it doesn’t look good.


August 13th, 2012
6:19 pm

Certainly having 6 good starters (none a #1 starter but maybe some 2’s and 3’s) is a blessing, we should be thankful. An with Teheran, Delgado, and JJ, the starting pitching depth is very good. Makes the 2013 competition for roster spots interesting:

Hudson (assume Braves accept $9M 2013 option, if not, $1M buy-out)
Maholm (assume Braves accept $6.5M 2013 option, if not, $500K buy-out)
Beachy (midyear)

Sheets will be a free agent. I look for Jurrgens to be with another team in 2013, frees up at least $5.5M


August 13th, 2012
6:20 pm

see where Derek Lowe landed with Yankees?? this will be interesting.


August 13th, 2012
6:23 pm

Carroll, the announcers on tv were saying that the scouting reports on Sheets were saying that the consensus among scouts was that he was hitting the typical dead arm period and his velocity had declined quite a bit since his first start making him much more vulnerable. They had spoken with several scouts who were saying they were observing the same thing? They said it was to be expected based on the fact of his lack of competition over the last couple of years. How do you solve that? When Hanson comes back do you give Sheets a skip in his turn or does he pitch his way out of this? Dave, also would like to know if the Braves staff is seeing the same thing?

NC fan

August 13th, 2012
6:31 pm

DOB – given that the seemingly biggest concern with a 6 man rotation is how to handle being understaffed in the bullpen in the event a starter has a short outing, can’t that be handled by rotating the “spot” long reliever duty among the starters based on whichever starter is 3 days away from their next start and then capping them at 2-3 innings at most (and just treat it as throwing between starts)? That way they have multiple days of rest before the “possible” relatively short relief duty and still have several days of rest before their next outing.


August 13th, 2012
6:44 pm

Sheets was missing his spots last night but his velocity ws about the same. He was hitting 90-91 on his fastball all night. That is down from 95-97 3 years ago but not from what he came back throwing. ESPN is all BS, it is called filling airtime. Sheets problem was location not a dead arm.

One other thing come Sept 1 you will be hard pressed to use a 6-man rotation with off days also in there.


August 13th, 2012
6:49 pm

I fully expect both JJ and Hanson to be gone next year. JJ to be a non-tender and Hanson by way o a trade. Sheets wll get an offer and a spring training invite. Maholm’s and Huddy’s contact will be excercised. Expect to start next year with competition between Huddy, Maholm, Minor, Sheets, Delgado. Medlen and Teheran.


August 13th, 2012
6:57 pm

I think regardless of who the best five are, Medlen will go to the pen…unless Hudson or Sheets go down all together. Wouldn’tbe surprised to see either of them it the DL. It just comes with the pitching through it aging territory.


August 13th, 2012
7:07 pm

Seriously Carrol Rogers, can you please ask why Hanson fastball velocity dropped by 5 mph ? He used to throw it at 95 mph, now he can barely throw it 89 mph ! Usually when this happens is when there is an injury usually Tommy John because I remember this happening to Smoltz, Hudson, Medlen, right before they were injured their velocity dropped.


August 13th, 2012
7:15 pm

Sheets was hitting as high as 93mph on the radar gun last night. If 93 is a “dead arm” then all our starting pitchers have dead arms!


August 13th, 2012
7:18 pm


First, Hanson’s fastball has been down for two years now so this is not a recent turn of events. Second, I have been trying to get this question presented since last season to no avail.

Controversial or touchy subjects are mostly avoided here; and when they’re not, Fredi gets defensive.


August 13th, 2012
7:40 pm

A six-man rotation? They should call it a six-wuss rotation. The Braves need to get some quality starters who can answer the bell for a full season.

The economics of MLB are killing the sport. The quality of the ML product erodes more and more each season.


August 13th, 2012
8:10 pm

“The quality of the ML product erodes more and more each season.”

Kinda like most of the posts on the ole blog in recent months. Congrats.


August 13th, 2012
8:24 pm

Larry, unfortunately you are right. There has to be something going on there.


August 13th, 2012
8:59 pm

This is the series where the Braves absolutely need to gain on the Nats. While the Nats are playing a very good Giants team, the Braves are playing a Padres team 14 games under .500 and going nowhere. So how do the Braves begin this series? By playing flat, having just 1 hit through 5 innings, and giving up 9 hits and at least 3 runs to these lowly Padres.

Want to get rid of the dead weight? Get Minor out of the rotation. He is good for 2-3 games, then falls on his face for 3-4 in a row. Facts are facts, if you can’t take care of a team like the Padres at home, you don’t deserve to be in the playoffs. I am willing to bet that the Nats take care of their business against a very good Giants team, so what does that say about the Braves when they can’t even take care of the Padres at home with so much on the line? Not much in my opinion.


August 13th, 2012
9:26 pm

Minor needs to go the pen. No 6 men rotation not necessary.


August 13th, 2012
9:30 pm

Getting shut out at home against a losing team in the home stretch of the season. Yep, about par for the course for this team. They play good enough to get within range of the division title, then choke in crunch time. That seems to be the DNA of this team the past 6 seasons.


August 13th, 2012
9:31 pm

Send minor packing!


August 13th, 2012
9:35 pm

Only good thing tonight is we don’t have to watch that obnoxious girl on the U-Verse commercial…the olympics are done!!! Yay!


August 13th, 2012
9:44 pm

This team is not in the same league with Washington and we know they can’t hold their own in a 3 out of 5 series in the playoffs much less a one game playoff.


August 13th, 2012
9:51 pm

Uggla o for six since being moved up to six hole,time to put best players on field and see what happens, that means prado at second johnson in left,when simmons comes back we will have people batting for average all the way through the order which should help prevent slumps like we seem to be in now


August 13th, 2012
9:53 pm

Minor has had no run support for 20+ innings. Kinda hard to win when you need to basically give up negative runs, you guys.

Also, I love how this lot starts screaming about the sky falling when the team goes on a two-game losing skid. Get out of your parents’ basements and breathe some fresh air.


August 13th, 2012
9:55 pm

12 hits and 4 runs so far in this one for the Padres, they have also committed 2 errors and they are still beating the Braves by 3 runs. Good teams find a way to beat bad teams at home, in the middle of a penant race, this late in the season. I guess that says a lot for the Braves.


August 13th, 2012
9:58 pm

Generalize much there, champ?


August 13th, 2012
10:01 pm

Uggla’s a good guy but he’s a drag on the team. If we hope to keep up with Washington he needs to spend more time on the bench or better yet head on over to Gwinnett.


August 13th, 2012
10:02 pm

Usually when a bad team commits 2 errors on the road, they lose. So much for that. Hope the Nats lose, hope the Braves players feel the same way, though they should take care of their own business.


August 13th, 2012
10:05 pm

i’d like to see us put uggla on waivers and see if we could get rid of him,

music city hammer

August 13th, 2012
10:17 pm

Why so hard on Minor? He’s only second (behind Huddy) on the staff with nine Quality starts. nother one tonight ties him at the top. Couple that with the reported fact that the club has scored no runs for him over his last 20 innings. If he keeps pitching like he has the last month or so it won’t be on him if he is the odd man out. The question is why doesn’t the club back him up? The bigger concern is what do you do to be competitive against lefties?


August 13th, 2012
10:29 pm

“Send minor packing!”

Damn, the idiots on this blog never fail to disappoint.

Minor’s last 7 starts? 44 IP, 12 ER (2.45 ERA)

The team is 3-4 in those starts. He is 2-3 decision wise.

Braves have scoed a total of 15 runs in those 7 games while Minor was in the game. 12 of those 15 runs were in 2 of the games. Meaning that in the other 5 games, they’ve scored 3 runs.

Sorry folks. When over the course of 5 starts (in those 5 starts Minor allowed 7 total ER), your offense provides you with 3 runs TOTAL of support?

Unless your name is Cy Young or Greg Maddux (circa 1994 or 1995), you’re team is going to lose most of those games

But proceed with the “Send Minor Packing” Mantra….. it adds to your (ahem)…. “charm”.



August 13th, 2012
10:56 pm

I see N8 (or Nut or Newt or whatever it is) is still feeling the pain from getting body slammed on the blogs in the past.

Get over it already.


August 13th, 2012
11:16 pm

A 6 man rotation at 2nd base..HEAR ME OUT! Play Uggla..then next 5 games FW & FG go into stands and pick a person (guy or gal) to take Danny boy’s place in lineup & batting order!
(Help attemdance AND give Dannnyy a little xtra time to work the biceps!)


August 14th, 2012
12:56 am

I’m over it sheeesh. You’re still and idiot whether I got slammed. Whether i’m not over it or not.

You just have to accept that you’re not very smart.

Wolf in Pennsylvania

August 14th, 2012
9:12 am

Who do the Braves start in a playoff series?
Hudson for sure, then who?
Maholm? maybe
Medlen? maybe
Minor – NO WAY he starts in the playoffs
Sheets? possibly, if healthy (I hope so!)
Hanson? – doubtful right now

On that basis, I’m going to take Minor out of the rotation and put him in the bullpen. I like having another lefty in the pen.


August 14th, 2012
9:47 am

That was a hilarious attempt at English, especially given that it was meant to discredit another’s intelligence.

Keep trying.

[...] Fredi Gonzalez confirmed Monday what had been speculated and kicked around for about a week – the Atlanta Braves will use, at least on a temporary basis, a six-man rotation when Tommy Hanson returns from the disabled list on Friday, reports [...]

[...] rest. It’s something they’ve done multiple times this year. So if the concern about the change to a six-man rotation is that it gets pitchers out of their rhythm, I’m thinking the schedule does that too, with the [...]


August 14th, 2012
4:01 pm

At the end of the year, release JJ and trade Hanson.

[...] in order to accommodate the return of Tommy Hanson from the disabled list. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution‘s David O’Brien, this isn’t just a case of the Braves having a surplus of [...]

October 4th, 2013
3:44 pm

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