The Atlanta Braves are in the playoffs. They clinched the N.L. East and now the plan is to organize the pitching rotation as the final week of baseball is here. Manager Fredi Gonzalez already appears to have a plan and it involves making a 36-year-old veteran a starter.
Freddy Garcia, the same pitcher who could not keep runners from crossing the plate in Baltimore at the start of the season, will possibly become the Braves' fourth starter in the N.L. Division Series. He would take the youngster, Alex Wood's place in the starting rotation, giving the Braves a heavier right-handed pitching rotation entering the playoffs.
So what will the Braves get from Garcia? Nobody knows, but Gonzalez appears to like his chances. Garcia turned his season around with the Braves after joining the team in September. He's pitched 20.2 innings with a tomahawk across his chest, going 1-2, but allowing only three earned runs on 17 hits and three walks while striking out 13 batters. Garcia has only surrendered a home run and is posting a 1.31 ERA with the Braves.
The numbers are great, but will Garcia continue his dominance in the postseason?
The playoffs are completely different aninmal, but will Garcia be ready? He has not played October ball since 2011 with the New York Yankees and he was roughed up by the Detroit Tigers. Maybe it's a good sign for Gonzalez. He could use the veteran against the N.L. and if the Braves make it to the World Series, then he can flip over his rotation?
In his career, Garcia is 6-3 in 10 starts made with a 3.28 ERA. His best stretch came in 2005 as a member of the White Sox where he went 3-0, beating the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros, but those were in his better days. Why exactly does Gonzalez not trust Wood?
Wood is another inexperienced pitcher in the Braves' rotation that has yet to taste postseason play. Kris Medlen started the N.L. Wild Card game and though he pitched decently, the Braves could not get the young star enough offense and adequate defense. Gonzalez would rather take his chances with a veteran, than have another young guy take the ball in a pressured filled situation.
For a 22-year-old pitcher, Wood has been terrific. He's 3-3 in nine starts with a 3.21 ERA. However, Gonzalez does not appear to have enough faith in the young lefty. Wood destroyed major league hitting in August. He went 2-0 allowing only three earned runs in 30 innings pitched as the Braves won four of his five starts. However, September was a different story. Wood did not get five innings in the books in any of his starts and most recently, on the day the Braves clinched, he came out of the bullpen and took credit for the hold.
Wood saw a lot of division rivalsin his starts, which was probably a bit unfair for the young lefty. However, the Braves will be entrusting Mike Minor, Paul Maholm and Julio Teheran, neither of which have ever played in the postseason.Garcia might not be the best option, but he is the most experienced option the Braves have in 2013.