ATLANTA -- When asked to provide the best defensive play he has seen Andrelton Simmons make, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has often said, "the next one." But it might be difficult for Simmons to top what he did in the 14th inning of Saturday's 8-7 loss to the Nationals.
With runners at first and second and one out, Simmons was leaning toward third base in expectation of having to cover the bag when Nationals reliever Craig Stammen produced a sacrifice bunt attempt. When Stammen pulled his bat back and sent a chopper up the middle, Simmons redirected his momentum and grabbed the ball just to the left of second base.
"That was huge with us having the bunt play on where guys were crashing over, and for him to still be able to get over there," Braves pitcher Kris Medlen said.
Getting to the ball was the easy part. Simmons then proceeded to do the improbable by stepping on second base as he was falling back toward center field and made an off-balance throw that was somehow strong enough to beat Stammen to first and complete an inning-ending double play.
"I wasn't even thinking about him throwing the ball to first," Braves third baseman Chris Johnson said. "He's amazing. He's the best shortstop I've ever seen."
According to FanGraphs.com, Simmons currently leads all Major League shortstops with 36 Defensive Runs Saved and a UZR/150 of 26.6. Both marks would rank as the best recorded by a shortstop since these defensive metrics were adopted in 2002.
Braves shuffle rotation after 15-inning game
ATLANTA -- In response to Kris Medlen's emergency appearance out of the bullpen in the final innings of Saturday night's game, the Braves will take advantage of Monday's off-day to push Medlen back in the rotation during their upcoming six-game road trip through New York and St. Louis.
Medlen threw 47 pitches on three days' rest after entering in the 12th inning of the Braves' 8-7 loss to the Nationals, allowing four hits over three innings, including the game-winning home run by former teammate Adam LaRoche. With the Braves out of options in the bullpen after Luis Avilan worked the first two extra innings, Medlen would likely have remained in the game even longer if the Braves had found a way to tie things up in the bottom half of the inning.
In his place, Brandon Beachy will start the Tuesday night opener of a two-game series against the Mets, while Alex Wood will take the mound on Wednesday afternoon. Medlen will slot in behind Mike Minor and in front of Julio Teheran for the four-game series against the Cardinals that starts on Thursday night, and Beachy will start next Sunday.
Paul Maholm tossed 5 2/3 strong innings in a rehab start with Class A Rome on Saturday night, but he was left out of the rotation for the road trip, leaving open the possibility of an additional rehab start for the 31-year-old left-hander before he makes his return. Maholm has been on the disabled list with a bruised left wrist since late July, and on Sunday he expressed confidence that he was close to being activated.
"Like I said before, I'm not trying to build up to throw 95 [mph] or anything," Maholm said on Sunday after he struck out six and allowed one run on four hits for Rome. "I was just kind of getting back into game action, and obviously, I'm going to talk to them and see what they want me to do and what role they want me to come back in."
Maholm struggled in his final seven starts before hitting the disabled list, posting a 6.45 ERA and lasting seven innings on only one occasion.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.