There’s a chance Jair Jurrjens has worked his last inning of 2011, and that doesn’t augur well for a team that stands to play beyond the 162nd game. But the Braves can win the Division Series without Jurrjens if — and this is a mammoth “if” — Tommy Hanson is OK.
A team doesn’t need four starters in Round 1. Figure Tim Hudson starts Games 1 and 4, Hanson (assuming he’s healthy) works Games 2 and 5, and Derek Lowe or Brandon Beachy or Mike Minor gets Game 3. The Braves can win with that rotation.
This assumes that Hanson’s sore shoulder hasn’t just healed but has healed to the extent that he can work on three days’ rest. If not, then a four-man Round 1 rotation would be warranted, and that stretches things mighty thin. That’s not to say it couldn’t be done — Beachy and Minor are good young pitchers, and Lowe has done fine work in Octobers past — but it is to say that way would be much tougher.
Hanson is scheduled to throw a side session today and then, assuming his arm stays attached, work a game in the Instructional League. As strange as it sounds, that appearance against minor-league hitters could be the biggest start any Brave has worked this season.
One more thing: For those of you saying, “The Braves aren’t going to make the playoffs!” … well, the updated numbers at coolstandings.com shows them as having a 95.3 percent chance of getting there.
And one other thing: As it stands, the Braves wouldn’t play Milwaukee in the Division Series. Arizona has tied the Brewers in the standings, and the Diamondbacks hold the tiebreaker, having won the head-to-head series 4-3. As hot as Arizona has been — it has won 18 of its past 21 games — I’d rather take my chances with the Snakes. The Brewers pitch better.
By Mark Bradley