PHILADELPHIA -- With the strong possibility that the Braves will end up with one of the National League's two available Wild Card spots, there has been some debate about whether they should start Kris Medlen or Tim Hudson in the one-game playoff that they would need to win to advance to the Division Series.
Providing a different opinion, John Smoltz believes the Braves should take the gamble of going with one of their other starting pitchers in this must-win game. His belief is that the Braves would increase their odds of winning the best-of-five Division Series if they would have Medlen and Hudson available to pitch the first two games which would be played at Turner Field.
"I know it's unconventional," Smoltz said. "I know it's outside the box, and I know I'd get fired if I was the manager. But this is what I would do if I was the Atlanta Braves. I wouldn't start Medlen or Hudson in that one-game playoff. I will tell you why. So what if they win that first game? So what? My theory is the Braves' best chance to win the World Series is to line up their rotation in the [Division Series] with Medlen and Hudson or Hudson and Medlen."
While expressing this opinion, Smoltz stressed that he understands he is not in the same position as Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who would be chastised and likely fired if the Braves were to lose this must-win game without him starting either Medlen or Hudson.
After chuckling when told of Smoltz's opinion, Gonzalez made it known that Medlen or Hudson will be starting the one-game playoff if the Braves do win one of the NL's two Wild Card spots.
"Smoltzie is a guy who rolls the dice," Gonzalez said. "For me, you've got to go with whoever your best is. No matter whose butt it is [on the line], you've got to go with whoever gives you the best chance to win the ballgame."
Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell have discussed ways that they could alter their rotation to possibly set Medlen or Hudson up to start the one-game playoff, which is scheduled to be played on Oct. 5, two days before the start of the Division Series.
Whichever pitcher does not start the one-game playoff would likely start Game 1 of the Division Series if the Braves advance. Mike Minor or Paul Maholm would start Game 2. The pitcher that starts the one-game playoff would be available to return on regular rest for Game 3.