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 ajc.com.
The plan is for the rotation to go through twice with an off day Aug. 30 and to then return to the regular five-man rotation come September. That would allow each Braves starter an extra day of rest while in the midst of 20 consecutive gamedays.
With Kris Medlen in the rotation and performing well, the move will allow Tim Hudson, who has pitched through bone spurs in his ankle for two months, and Ben Sheets, who is pitching for the first time in nearly two years, some extra time to heal and rest.
“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.”
Gonzalez said that when September rolls around, they would use whoever had been the most effective in the five-man rotation. He also hasn't decided whether the Braves will part with a reliever or a position player. The move must be made Friday when Hanson returns from the DL.
“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.”
Some had speculated that Medlen would be the most logical choice to reenter the bullpen given his experience, but one must also account for the fact that the Braves have won each of Medlen's last 14 starts.
Medlen, meanwhile, has come to terms with the fact that he can be utilized in a variety of ways.
“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.”
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