Manager Fredi Gonzalez was stewing in his office early Friday afternoon. He’d been in there with the door shut for most of the day the last three days, huddled with general manager Frank Wren and assistant GM Bruce Manno, minor league officials and Bobby Cox as they go over September call-ups.
So there was plenty to stew about. But Friday, Gonzalez’s dilemma was to whom to present Thursday’s lineup card. Should it go to third baseman Chipper Jones to commemorate his 2,700th hit? Or should it go to right-hander Kris Medlen, who pitched his first career complete game and first career shutout?
As he does with other problems, Gonzalez turned to Cox. “Give it to Medlen,” Cox said. “Chipper’s got the ball.”
The next decision involving Medlen might not be so tough.
As Jones said Thursday, after he hit two home runs on his bobblehead night, Medlen has pitched himself into the rotation going forward.
The competition for the five-man rotation started Friday, when right-hander Tommy Hanson was activated from the 15-day disabled list, a rest he hopes will knock out that lower back soreness once and for all.
But that remains to be seen. His 6-2/3 inning outing Friday wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as inspiring as Medlen’s. He threw 100 pitches and gave up three earned runs but wasn’t the pitcher of record in the 4-3, 11-inning win over the Dodgers.
Fantasy analysis: If you haven’t added Medlen to your pitching staff, do so immediately. He has been pitching lights out and should help your team down the stretch.
Inserting Hanson into the order is being treated as an off day for the other five starting pitchers — counting reliever-turned-starter Medlen — who will fall in place behind him, creating a six-man rotation until the next off day, August 30.
One of the things the Braves’ brain trust was deciding Friday was whether to option a reliever to make room for Hanson or to go a man short on the bench. Because left-hander Paul Maholm threw seven innings Wednesday and Medlen followed with his complete game, the bullpen is rested, so the Braves chose to option right-hander Cory Gearrin to Triple-A Gwinnett. If things so awry, they figure, it will be easy enough to call up another arm.