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Braves Duck the Fifth-Starter Decision

Most people around the Braves were anticipating the team either demoting Jo-Jo Reyes or Kyle Davies today to make room for John Smoltz, who was coming off the disabled list to start against the Reds. Instead, the team optioned Joey Devine to triple-A Richmond to make room for Smoltz on the 25-man major league roster.

This sends mixed signals about who will be the fifth starter. As it stands right now, the Braves have 6 starters on their roster. This is also an interesting decision as it keeps youngster Jose Ascanio in the big league bullpen instead of the more experienced Devine. This begs the question, "what the heck's going on?"

One option is that they are keeping Davies up in case Smoltz can't go deep in today's game. Davies only threw 22 pitches in his 5-batter disaster-start Monday, so he could likely help out in the bullpen if needed (yes, I do realize that Davies "helping out" is a lot to ask). The other option is that they plan to keep one or the other in reserve for when that fifth starter spot comes up in the rotation next time around - that would be this Sunday night against the Cardinals, another ESPN-televised game.

As an aside, that Sunday night 8:05 pm start time game has not made too many people around the Braves happy, since the team has to fly to San Francisco that night or the next day to start a four-game series against the Giants. Personally, I'm tired of these ESPN games. Since June 10th, we've had three Sunday night ESPN telecasts and two weekday ESPN-televised games. That's after having only one ESPN-televised game (on a Wednesday) the first two and a half months of the season. As of now, beyond this Sunday no other ESPN games are on the schedule, and I'd be happy if it stayed that way.

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