10/7/2013 8:40 P.M. ET
Unlike Dodgers, Braves stick with their starter
By Mark Bowman and Quinn Roberts / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- When the Dodgers opted to start Clayton Kershaw in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Monday night, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez stuck with his plan to send Freddy Garcia to the mound with the season on the line.
Trailing 2-1 in the best-of-five series, Gonzalez had the option to scratch Garcia and go with Kris Medlen. But while the Dodgers were willing to allow Kershaw to make the first start of his career on three days' rest, the Braves were not comfortable giving Medlen this opportunity.
"We've got to take care of our team," Gonzalez said. "We know our guys, and we know how to prepare them and how successful they're going to be in certain situations."
The closest Medlen has come to following a start with another on short rest came courtesy of four career starts -- all completed in 2009 and '10 -- he has made within four days after a relief appearance. None of the relief appearances consisted of more than one inning or 24 pitches.
Over the years, Gonzalez and former Braves manager Bobby Cox have discussed the risks and rewards of bringing pitchers back on short rest. This topic arose again during a phone conversation they shared on Monday morning.
Accounting simply for the short-rest postseason starts that have been made following a start and ignoring the starts that have come within four days after a relief appearance, Braves pitchers have posted a 5.61 ERA in 17 starts that fit this criteria dating back to 1991.
John Smoltz had little trouble as he posted a 2.45 ERA in five short-rest starts in October. Greg Maddux allowed eight earned runs and combined for 10 innings in two short-rest starts he made for Atlanta following a start.
Tom Glavine compiled a 6.09 ERA in the six postseason starts made on short rest. But this is another misleading number created by a small sample size. Glavine allowed three earned runs or fewer and lasted at least five innings in four of those outings. He allowed seven earned runs while lasting fewer than three innings in two others.
"It always boils down to the person pitching that day," Gonzalez said. "You can't just make a blanket statement saying, 'Hey, we're going to go [on short rest].' Everybody can go short days on a short-day rest. I think every individual, every pitcher is different. You've got to make the best decision for that person to be successful."
Braves prepared for Kershaw this time around
LOS ANGELES -- The Braves know who they're up against. Striking out 12 times and managing just one run on three hits against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday, Atlanta will get another crack at him Monday in Game 4.
This time around, Atlanta believes it is better prepared. Before Thursday night, the Braves hadn't faced Kershaw since Sept. 4, 2011. Now, they will see him twice in one week and on three days' rest, something the left-hander has never done before.
"We had a tough task in Game 1. We hadn't faced Kershaw since 2011 and had a few days off, and that's always going to mess up a hitter," said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who had one hit off Kershaw on Thursday.
"So we can take as many positives as can you out of this. Clayton Kershaw, he's probably going to be the Cy Young Award winner. We're going to have a battle every time you face a guy like that."
Thinking he might be a little tired after Thursday's outing, Freeman and the rest of the Braves' lineup will try to take advantage of any early miscues.
"He might be leaving some pitches over the plate," Freeman said. "I don't think you want to be passive against him. We are a very aggressive team. We go down swinging if we're going to go down. We want to go out there and just get after it as quick as we can."
Mark Bowman and Quinn Roberts are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.