Hudson named Opening Day starter

Kris Medlen might have already established himself as the rotation’s ace.  But as the Braves approach what has the potential to be a memorable season, they have decided to give their veteran Tim Hudson the honor of being their Opening Day starter.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez announced Thursday afternoon that Hudson will be on the mound when the Braves open the season against the Phillies on April 1 at Turner Field.  This will be Hudson’s sixth career Opening Day start and third with the Braves.

Though Medlen proved to be baseball’s top pitcher while posting a 0.97 ERA in 13 starts during the final two months of last season, it has been assumed this Opening Day honor would go to Hudson, who has been a key part of Atlanta’s rotation since joining the Braves in 2005.

While Medlen has made just 30 career starts, Hudson has made the fourth-most starts (222) in Atlanta history.  The only pitchers who have compiled more since the club moved from Milwaukee in 1966 are Phil Niekro, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux.

Both of Hudson’s previous two Opening Day starts for the Braves, in 2006 and 2008, occurred on the road.  This year he will have the opportunity to share the experience with his family and friends, who still reside approximately two hours south of Turner Field in and around his native town of Phenix City, Ala.

Hudson has gone 1-0 with a 3.41 ERA in his five previous Opening Day starts.  His first assignment for the Braves came in 2006, when he allowed five earned runs in just four innings amid cold and damp conditions at Dodger Stadium.  His most recent occurred in 2008, when he allowed two runs in seven innings during the first game ever played at Nationals Park.

Derek Lowe was Atlanta’s Opening Day starter from 2009-11 and Tommy Hanson was given the honor as Hudson was sidelined at that start of last year while recovering from back surgery.

After missing most of last year’s first month, Hudson went 16-7 with a 3.62 ERA   He posted a 3.99 ERA in five starts against the Phillies, despite allowing two earned runs or fewer in three of those outings.

Hudson has gone 105-65 with a 3.52 ERA in the 222 starts he has made since the Braves acquired him from the A’s in December 2004.  Jair Jurrjens is the only other Atlanta pitcher to record as many as 50 wins during this stretch.

When Hudson looks back on his career in Atlanta, he has trouble pinpointing what went wrong when he posted a career-high 4.86 ERA in 2006.  He has gone 78-44 with a 3.24 ERA during the six seasons that have followed.  Only Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, Adam Wainwright, Cliff Lee and Matt Cain have posted a better ERA while making at least 150 starts within this span.

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