ATLANTA -- With a perfect ninth inning in the Braves' 2-1 victory over the Phillies on Saturday night, Craig Kimbrel earned his 30th save of the season. Kimbrel, who led the National League with 46 saves last season, joins Mark Wohlers and John Smoltz as the only Braves with at least 30 saves in back-to-back seasons.
Kimbrel said that it means a lot to him to join such exclusive company in his second full season in the Major Leagues, but he sees saves as a team stat.
"It means our team is playing a lot of close games, we're in a lot close games and we're winning a lot of ballgames," Kimbrel said. "If we didn't play winning baseball, I wouldn't have those opportunities."
Kimbrel has dominated hitters this season, accumulating 67 strikeouts in 40 innings, with an ERA of 1.35.
Braves mulling options as Trade Deadline nears
ATLANTA -- Less than 24 hours before the arrival of this year's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Braves were still searching for ways to upgrade their rotation. But with limited attractive options available, they were also exploring ways to upgrade their bullpen and bench.
The Braves were among the teams the Red Sox recently called to gauge interest in Josh Beckett, who is owed approximately $37 million through the end of the 2014 season. There does not seem to be a fit for Beckett in Atlanta, nor does it seem that the Red Sox are going to fulfill the Braves' wish to make Jon Lester available before Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET cutoff.
As the Deadline approaches, it has become clearer that the Rays will likely keep veteran starter James Shields, who drew interest from a handful of teams, including the Braves, but the future of Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster remained cloudy. The Dodgers still have not been able to complete the trade that would let Dempster spend the season's final two months in Los Angeles.
If the Dodgers and Cubs continue to struggle to reach an agreement, there is a chance the Braves could end up landing Dempster. But it is apparent that they are not focused on acquiring Dempster, who blocked the trade that would have sent him to Atlanta last week.
This year's trade market has not been a strong one for relievers. But with Kris Medlen potentially making a permanent move to the rotation, the Braves would certainly like to upgrade their bullpen. They have had some discussions about Tampa Bay's Wade Davis, who has an attractive contract and the ability to serve as a starting pitcher in the future.
The Braves have also inquired about Rockies right-handed reliever Rafael Betancourt, but they are not among the teams showing interest in Mariners right-handed reliever Brandon League.
Medlen still on tap to start against Marlins
ATLANTA -- Despite the addition of Paul Maholm via trade with the Cubs on Monday, Kris Medlen is still scheduled to start on Tuesday against the Marlins. It will be Medlen's first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2010.
Medlen has pitched effectively out of the bullpen this year, but with Jair Jurrjens struggling and Randall Delgado back in Triple-A, Medlen will get his chance.
"I finally get my opportunity again," Medlen said. "I think I made the most of it the first time around. I've had a pretty decent year so far, and I just kind of want to keep it going and help us win."
Medlen has appeared in 38 games and has a 2.48 ERA in 54 1/3 innings. He has struck out 36 and walked just 13. He made 18 starts from 2009 to 2010, going 6-2 with a 4.31 ERA.
Gonzalez, who was the Marlins' manager from 2007 to 2010, is looking forward to watching Medlen start.
"I think we're all excited to watch him pitch," Gonzalez said. "Hopefully it works and we can build his pitch count and he can lengthen out."
Medlen threw 46 pitches over three innings of relief on Wednesday against the Marlins and has not pitched since. Gonzalez said that Medlen's pitch count will likely stay below 75 or 80 on Tuesday.
Pitch count doesn't concern Medlen. He just wants to throw as many innings as Gonzalez will allow.
"I just want to be effective and go as deep as I can with the pitch count that I'm given," Medlen said. "I need to make them last. I need to be efficient and throw strikes. Hopefully they're effective strikes and I can get some outs and go as deep as I can."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.