Braves reconsider, sticking with five-man rotation
SAN FRANCISCO -- Less than 24 hours after revealing that he planned to use a six-man rotation through next week, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez scrapped that plan and said Alex Wood will remain in the bullpen for the time being.
Gonzalez revealed his plan to stick with a traditional five-man rotation before Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Giants. The Braves skipper made the decision after he and pitching coach Roger McDowell further evaluated how to best harness Wood's workload and keep the other starting pitchers on a rather normal schedule.
The Braves had planned to have Wood skip one turn and then return to the rotation to start Saturday's game against the Cardinals. But they now have opted to give that start to Aaron Harang, one of the veteran starters who would have seen their normal between-starts ritual altered by the six-man rotation.
Though he did not commit to when Wood might make his next start, Gonzalez said the plan remains for the 23-year-old southpaw to return to the rotation in the near future. The Braves are aiming to limit Wood to somewhere between 170 and 180 innings during his second professional season.
"Even during [Tuesday's] pregame talk, I wasn't too keen on it," Gonzalez said of the six-man rotation. "Then the more you talk through it and the more you talk to Roger and about what's best for everybody ... you start looking at [Thursday's off-day] and there's some guys that would be going [with two extra days of rest]. As you move forward, it just didn't make sense."
Had the Braves stuck with their plan to use a six-man rotation, Harang, Gavin Floyd, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran would have all made their next starts with two extra days of rest. Now they all will take just one extra day of rest into their next outings. Ervin Santana will start Friday's game against the Cardinals and then return to start the May 21 game against the Brewers on normal rest.
Gonzalez said Tuesday that he saw some benefit to providing extra rest to Floyd as he goes through the early stages of his return from Tommy John surgery.
But at the same time, Gonzalez recognized that it is not always wise to have his pitchers make consecutive starts seven days apart. Harang's only previous start with two extra days of rest this year occurred April 30, when he allowed the Marlins nine earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. The 36-year-old hurler has produced a 1.44 ERA in his other six starts.