Thursday morning Braves thoughts

Bill Shanks has some Thursday morning Braves thoughts.

- So what happens if the Braves play Arizona in the first round? The Diamondbacks and Brewers are now tied for the second best record in the National League with an 87-63 mark. Arizona holds the tie-breaker with Milwaukee since they won the season series against the Brewers. So if Arizona has the better regular season record, they would face Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs.

The Braves were 3-2 against Arizona this season. The Diamondbacks have had a really good season. They started out 15-22 on the season but have gone 43-25 since July 1 to take control of the National League West.

Justin Upton and Miguel Montero have been the offensive stars for the D'Backs. But the rotation has been the story, with Ian Kennedy (19-4) and Daniel Hudson (16-10) being their version of Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens. Unfortunately for Atlanta, Hanson and Jurrjens may not pitch in October.

J.J. Putz and David Hernandez have been a pretty good one-two punch in the bullpen.

Arizona would probably be a better matchup for Atlanta, just because they would not have to face Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder in the first round. But do not underestimate Arizona. Kirk Gibson is a fine manager, and they've had a really good season.

That being said, I'd still rather have Atlanta face the Diamondbacks than the Brewers. Milwaukee has been so tough at home this year. Plus, it might be a tougher matchup for Philadelphia if they have to play Arizona in round one.

- Randall Delgado needs a little attention here. Sure, Julio Teheran is one of the best prospects in the game. But Delgado has had five starts and if you're not impressed, you're not watching.

Delgado has allowed nine runs in 25 innings (3.24 ERA) in his first appearances. He's allowed 19 hits, walked 11 and struck out 17. This kid will turn 22 next February, and there's little doubt in my mind he's showing he's going to be ready to be in a major league rotation.

The Braves are going to have to have some come-to-Jesus meetings so to speak this winter when determining which pitchers to keep. They can't keep them all, and there's no doubt Delgado has as good a case as anyone for him to be in the rotation in 2012.

- Here's a question I was asked on 960 the Ref in Athens Thursday morning: Not counting pitchers, who is Atlanta's MVP this season?

Not an easy answer, is it? I said Dan Uggla, believe it or not. Heck, he was in a baseball coma in the first three months. But when he woke up, the Braves needed offense since the pitching was not as strong as it was in the first half of the year. But Uggla, and more precisely his hitting streak, kept this team going in July and August and allowed them build a lead in the wildcard.

Can't say it's Prado, Gonzalez or Heyward. Center field has been changed twice this season. While Brian McCann is still valuable, he has not had his best season in 2011. Then you have Chipper, who has had a great comeback season and probably done better than many of us (me) believed he would. But I would give the edge to Uggla over Chipper. Sure, Freddie Freeman has been great, but I wouldn't say he's the MVP. I'll go with Uggla. And who in the world thought in June, when he was hitting about .175, that we'd be able to say that!

- Finally, I'm not buying the Kris Medlen pitching in October stuff. I would love nothing more than to have Kris out there, so don't get me wrong. But Kris was really delayed by that scar tissue problem, and now, all of a sudden, he's got a chance to pitch in the playoffs?

And heck, I'm worried as much about Kris's future than anything else. Are they really going to rush him? Are they really that desperate? Again, it would be great if Kris were out there, but I don't want to jeopardize his future by rushing him in October. And how do we even know that if he is out there Medlen can be effective? It just sounds like a huge gamble to me.

Let's hope Tommy Hanson can return. They need him. I think they could get by without Medlen. But we'll see what happens. Kris has proved a lot of people wrong before. I don't doubt his ability, cause the kid has more heart than just about anyone on that team. But I just don't want to put his future at risk by rushing him for October. Shut him down and get him ready for April 2012.


Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, GA and WCOH Fox Sports 1400 in Newnan, GA. Shanks is a columnist for The Macon Telegraph. Email Bill at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.


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