Medlen also a potential relief option; Kimbrel, Carpenter still fresh
LOS ANGELES -- The news wasn't all bad for a Braves bullpen that got roughed up for seven runs during Sunday night's 13-6 loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
The play on the field certainly wasn't pretty, but heading into Game 4, the Atlanta pitching staff appears fresh -- or at least as fresh as a relief corps could possibly be the day after working 5 1/3 innings.
Neither Craig Kimbrel nor David Carpenter -- arguably Atlanta's top two relief men -- pitched on Sunday, and only Alex Wood tossed more than two innings.
Should the Braves fall into early trouble on Monday, either Game 1 starter Kris Medlen or Game 2 starter Mike Minor would be available out of the bullpen. One of the two would need to be preserved for a potential Game 5 in Atlanta on Wednesday (both would be on full rest due to Tuesday's off-day). But the other will serve as a de facto reliever for the remainder of the series.
"I've got to be ready for anything," Medlen said after Sunday's loss. "This is what you work for, for situations like this. Our backs are against the wall and all that, but it's just part of being here and part of the situation."
On Monday afternoon, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez hinted that it would be Minor who would get the ball out of the 'pen if the situation calls for it. If not, Gonzalez will hold off on making a Game 5 starter decision until he has to.
"If everything goes fine, then we'll make the fifth game starter decision then," Gonzalez said. "If something goes wrong [in Game 4], Minor is available, and go from there."
Medlen described the situation as "all hands on deck" for Game 4. Of course, a solid start from veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia could quell a lot of the Braves' concerns.
It was Julio Teheran's shaky outing on Sunday that put the Braves' bullpen in its current predicament. The rookie right-hander lasted just 2 2/3 innings, forcing Gonzalez to call on Wood in the third inning. Gonzalez said it's likely Wood will be available Monday, despite throwing 35 pitches one day ago.
Jordan Walden was the only other pitcher to go more than one inning, and his inability to close out the eighth inning forced Gonzalez to use Luis Avilan and then David Hale to record the final out.
Now, all five Braves relievers who threw on Sunday will need to be prepared for anything on Monday, which Kimbrel noted is part of the job of a relief pitcher.
"Nothing's ever the same," Kimbrel said. "You might get into a routine where something works for a while, but in the bullpen, you know you constantly have to be ready no matter what your role is. It's part of the job."
Gonzalez called on Kimbrel to record four outs in the Braves' Game 2 victory, marking only the second time this season Kimbrel pitched more than one inning. The hard-throwing right-hander wouldn't mind making it three on Monday night.
"I hope I get that opportunity, because it probably means we're tied or ahead. If that opportunity presents itself, I'll be more than willing to go out there and do it."