Strong in rehab start, Hanson could return Friday

Strong in rehab start, Hanson could return Friday

Strong in rehab start, Hanson could return Friday
NEW YORK -- Tommy Hanson experienced little trouble while scattering three hits over five scoreless innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday. Now the Braves will have to determine how to accommodate his return to the starting rotation.

It is easy to project Hanson could be activated from the disabled list to make Friday night's start against the Dodgers. But Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez faces the tough task of determining how Hanson's return will affect the makeup of his rotation.

With the Braves currently in the midst of playing 20 consecutive days through Aug. 29, Gonzalez has continued to toy with the idea of utilizing a six-man rotation for the next couple of weeks. The drawback would be the necessity to carry one fewer reliever or bench player during that stretch.

At the same time, none of the current members of the rotation stand as a logical choice to be removed if Gonzalez decides to stick with a five-man staff. Kris Medlen certainly has not made the decision any easier while allowing just three runs and totaling 16 2/3 innings in the three starts he has made since moving from the bullpen to the rotation.

"We've got to see what is best for the team and what is best for the individuals," Gonzalez said. "Do we go with a six-man because it's [20] straight games or do we go five-man and stick one guy in the bullpen? Who knows? There will be a lot of talk and discussion over the next few days."

Gonzalez would like to give his starting pitchers an extra day of rest whenever possible. There is constant uncertainty surrounding Ben Sheets' health, and Tim Hudson's left ankle has been a slight concern over the past couple of months.

If Hanson is added to the rotation on Friday, each of the Atlanta starters would gain an extra day of rest during their next turn. With the current makeup of the rotation, Sheets and Mike Minor would be the only two members that would need to make both of their final two starts of this month on regular rest. Once the next scheduled off-day comes on Aug. 30, each member would again get an extra day before their next turn.

While moving Medlen back to the bullpen might be the simple solution, it is not necessarily the best one. The versatile right-hander has used this recent opportunity to provide the same dependability that he did when he was previously in the rotation before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010.

The Braves have won each of the past 14 games started by Medlen dating back to May 29, 2010. During that span of starts, Medlen has posted a 3.63 ERA and allowed opponents a .257 batting average.