Atlanta rotation lining up for Medlen to start Game 1

Atlanta rotation lining up for Medlen to start Game 1

ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will likely wait to set his postseason rotation after the regular season concludes. But the way he has aligned his starting pitchers for this week's final series against the Phillies sets up the possibility for Kris Medlen to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

After David Hale makes his second career start on Thursday in the series opener, Gonzalez will send Medlen to the mound on Friday, with Mike Minor starting Saturday's game ahead of Julio Teheran, who will be pushed back a day to handle the regular-season finale.

"We're just trying to line them up without really making a lot of adjustments going into it," Gonzalez said. "After Sunday, we can rearrange them if we want to."

Both NLDS Game 1s are scheduled for a week from Thursday, and the Braves entered Tuesday's action protecting a half-game lead on the Cardinals for home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. If the rotation stayed in line for the beginning of the postseason, Medlen would start Game 1 with an extra day of rest, and Minor would do the same for Game 2. Teheran would be pitching on six days' rest for Game 3 next Sunday.

"We have those three days off, so it's not official that those are the three that we're going to after that," Gonzalez said. "We just want to give guys some extra days here and there. If we do choose, it can fit that way also."

Medlen has turned his season around, posting a second-half ERA of 2.63, a full run better than the mark he took into the All-Star break. The 27 year-old right-hander has also seen his strikeout-to-walk ratio jump from a middling first-half mark of 2.69 to a rotation-best 4.52 since the break. His 1.03 ERA over his last five starts has brought back memories of the dominant stretch run in 2012 that persuaded Gonzalez to give him the ball for the Wild Card game against the Cardinals.

Tim Hudson's season-ending ankle injury in mid-July left Medlen as the only member of the rotation with postseason experience until the Braves acquired veteran Freddy Garcia from the Orioles and moved him into a starting role after two solid long relief outings. Garcia has pitched in four postseasons with three different teams, notably earning the win in the decisive game of the 2005 World Series while with the White Sox. Gonzalez has mentioned Garcia and lefty Paul Maholm as candidates to start a potential Game 4.

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.