ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell began mapping out potential plans for the starting rotation they will utilize during the postseason. The product of their conversation will become more clear based on how they align the rotation for this week's four-game series against the Phillies.
Mike Minor, Kris Medlen and Julio Teheran have all established themselves as candidates to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series. Regardless of who receives this honor, that trio will serve as the first three starters during the best-of-five series.
"All three guys have been pitching pretty darn good," Gonzalez said.
Medlen has significantly improved his candidacy while compiling a 1.03 ERA in his past five starts. He also stands as the only member of the group who has pitched in the postseason. He started the National League Wild Card playoff against the Cardinals last year.
With Alex Wood having moved to the bullpen for the remainder of the year, Freddy Garcia and Paul Maholm are the most likely candidates to start Game 4 of the NLDS. Maholm battled elbow discomfort early this month and showed some rust while pitching for the first time in 12 days during Friday's win over the Cubs.
Garcia will make Tuesday's start against the Brewers with the confidence he has built while allowing just two earned runs in the 13 innings he has combined to complete in two starts for Atlanta this month . He has proven to be better than envisioned when the Braves acquired him from the Orioles on Aug. 22 and sent him to Triple-A Gwinnett for the final week of the International League's regular season.
While Garcia spent all of July and August at the Minor League level, the Braves view him as a proven veteran who will not be unnerved in a big-game situation. The 36-year-old veteran has made 10 postseason starts. But just one of those has come since he tossed seven scoreless innings for the White Sox in the decisive Game 4 of the 2005 World Series.
"He knows how to pitch and he's not scared," Gonzalez said. "He's not rattled. He's been in that situation. It won't surprise anyone if he's a candidate for that spot."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.