Braves to keep using six-man rotation
SAN FRANCISCO -- Though he does not like the concept of utilizing a six-man starting rotation, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez plans to utilize this arrangement at least through next week.
Gonzalez finds himself forced to deal with the good problem created by having six solid starters on his active roster. The Braves could go to the traditional five-man rotation and satisfy their desire to harness Alex Wood's workload by sending the young left-hander to the bullpen for a couple weeks. But it is apparent they do not like this option.
After skipping his last turn and spending the past few days serving as a relief option, Wood will return to the rotation to start Saturday's game in St. Louis. The Braves will then let the other five members of their rotation keep their same order, beginning with Aaron Harang's start in Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals.
Gonzalez did not commit to using a six-man rotation beyond next week. But if each of the current starting pitchers remain healthy and there is a desire to return to a five-man rotation, the Braves will need to eventually make a tough decision.
"Obviously we've got to be creative," Gonzalez said. "It's something that's not right, but maybe we're on to something. Maybe it's something that will help out [later in the year]."
Like Harang on Sunday, Gavin Floyd, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran will start the first three games of next week's series against the Brewers with two extra days' of rest. While this might benefit Floyd, who has made two starts since returning from Tommy John sugery and Wood, who is lined up to work 170-180 innings in his second professional season, the extra rest is often not welcomed by veteran pitchers, who like to stick with a more consistent between-starts ritual.
Harang produced a 0.85 ERA in the five starts he made before he allowed the Marlins nine earned runs in just 4 2/3 innings while pitching with two extra days of rest on April 30. The veteran right-hander has allowed two earned runs in six innings during the two starts that have followed. The first of these two most recent outings was made on regular rest and the other with one extra day of rest.
"It could help us," Gonzalez said. "Looking at the big picture, it might help Woody out later on. I think it could help Gavin, coming off Tommy John, to get an extra breather each time out. I don't know how it will affect the other guys."