Unlike Dodgers, Braves stick with their starter
LOS ANGELES -- When the Dodgers opted to start Clayton Kershaw in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Monday night, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez stuck with his plan to send Freddy Garcia to the mound with the season on the line.
Trailing 2-1 in the best-of-five series, Gonzalez had the option to scratch Garcia and go with Kris Medlen. But while the Dodgers were willing to allow Kershaw to make the first start of his career on three days' rest, the Braves were not comfortable giving Medlen this opportunity.
"We've got to take care of our team," Gonzalez said. "We know our guys, and we know how to prepare them and how successful they're going to be in certain situations."
The closest Medlen has come to following a start with another on short rest came courtesy of four career starts -- all completed in 2009 and '10 -- he has made within four days after a relief appearance. None of the relief appearances consisted of more than one inning or 24 pitches.
Over the years, Gonzalez and former Braves manager Bobby Cox have discussed the risks and rewards of bringing pitchers back on short rest. This topic arose again during a phone conversation they shared on Monday morning.
Accounting simply for the short-rest postseason starts that have been made following a start and ignoring the starts that have come within four days after a relief appearance, Braves pitchers have posted a 5.61 ERA in 17 starts that fit this criteria dating back to 1991.
John Smoltz had little trouble as he posted a 2.45 ERA in five short-rest starts in October. Greg Maddux allowed eight earned runs and combined for 10 innings in two short-rest starts he made for Atlanta following a start.
Tom Glavine compiled a 6.09 ERA in the six postseason starts made on short rest. But this is another misleading number created by a small sample size. Glavine allowed three earned runs or fewer and lasted at least five innings in four of those outings. He allowed seven earned runs while lasting fewer than three innings in two others.
"It always boils down to the person pitching that day," Gonzalez said. "You can't just make a blanket statement saying, 'Hey, we're going to go [on short rest].' Everybody can go short days on a short-day rest. I think every individual, every pitcher is different. You've got to make the best decision for that person to be successful."