Not Medlen Around on the Mound

Courtesy: USAToday.com

Kris Medlen turns 27 in October and it would be easy to say that the Atlanta Braves have not taken advantage of the talent that he clearly has to this point.

Drafted out of Santa Ana College in the 10th round of the 2006 MLB Draft, Medlen did not start a game in the minors with Atlanta until 2008, having compiled a 1.17 ERA over his first 58 appearances, 69 innings. In 2009, Medlen began his swing-starter role in Atlanta after beginning the transition in Double-A in 2008.

As a relief pitcher, Medlen is 4-6 in 90 appearances, covering 129.2 innings, while he has posted a 2.92 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and a 112:37 K:BB.

As a starting pitcher, Medlen is 14-2 in 28 starts, covering 173 innings, while he has posted a 2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and a 153:36 K:BB.

The 2012 season for Medlen has been nothing short of amazing. In 10 starts, Medlen is now 8-0 with a 0.76 ERA and 0.82 WHIP, amassing a 72:9 K:BB in 70.2 innings.

Buster Olney tweeted on Wednesday night: “Braves won their 21st straight game started by Kris Medlen. Last time for this: 1950-53,when the Yankees won 22 straight Whitey Ford starts.”

Pretty remarkable company and a pretty incredible feat.

Considering how the Braves have treated him in the past, what are they going to do next season with their rotation?

Tim Hudson has an affordable team option for 2013 ($9 million), Jair Jurrjens is arbitration-eligible for the final time, Paul Maholm has an affordable team option for 2013 ($6.5 million), Tommy Hanson is under team-control until 2016, Mike Minor is under team-control until 2018, Brandon Beachy will be returning from Tommy John surgery at some point in the 2013 season, and this is not even considering the presence of Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran in the system.

Could Kris Medlen be displaced once again from Atlanta’s rotation considering the success he has had? He has been successful in whatever role he has been asked to fill, but it seems clear that he and his flat-billed cap deserve to be in the rotation until he reaches free agency in 2016.

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4 Comments

Do you really think Medlen won’t start for the Braves next year? He’s proven what he can do and he’ll be the clear cut #1 next year.

Hudson can be a nice #2. After that as a Braves fan there is no one that I can honestly say I totally trust on a daily basis.

Maholm has had a lot of nice starts in the past few months, but his track record of being a #4 level starter is pretty well-established.

Minor has gotten better, but he’s still someone I’d like to have as a #4 or #5 at this stage.

Jurrjens is totally done as far as the Braves are concerned. Maybe he will come back and be great, but it won’t be in Atlanta.

Beachy just had TJ surgery so he won’t be a starter again until 2014.

Delgado has great potential, but he’s certainly no threat to land at the top of the rotation yet. If he’s in the lower half I’d be fine with it I suppose.

Hanson has problems. That’s clear. He can’t stay healthy. He doesn’t seem focused. There are always rumors about him partying too much. I hope they can trade him for a bat personally.

Teheran has done nothing this year to make me think he’s ready for the rotation in the big leagues. I hope he gets is fixed because a lot of folks had high hopes for him.

At this point I’m expecting (hoping) 2013 to open with this order:
Medlen, Hudson, Maholm, Minor, Delgado

Looking longer terms 2014 could be:
Medlen, Beachy, Minor, Delgado, Teheran

By the way your stats were nice to see, but you could take it further by mentioning that this is the 2nd best first 10 start stretch by a pitcher in a season since 1921 (behind only one season by Juan Marichal). This was mentioned on the telecast toward the end of the game last night.

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Hey, Bill. I think that Medlen will be in the rotation, I was just stating how they haven’t taken advantage of him much. They knew how well he could pitch as a starter prior to the 10 game stretch, even sending him to Triple-A to stretch him out only to bring him back and toss him back into a relief role earlier this year. I like him, I think he deserves a shot to stick long-term, as well. The opportunity for him to thrive in the bullpen arises with all of the talent that the Braves have, though, and they know he can pitch well there, so, while it would be stupid, it is an option still. I didn’t watch the game last night but the company that Medlen is keeping right now is exceptional – Whitey Ford and Juan Marichal…wow! Thanks for reading and the excellent points!

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He was already working his way into the rotation (with a very modest body of work) back in 2010 when he had the injury. Keep in mind in 2010 they had Hudson, Hanson (the good version), Jurrjens (sort of good version), Lowe (making $15M) and Kawakami (who was pretty bad, but was making $6M to pitch). By late in the season it seemed clear they had already decided he was a starter (as evidenced by his 11 starts) and he would have been in the rotation full-time by the start of 2011, but he had the injury and the TJ surgery. The Braves didn’t rush him back, but instead brought him along slowly and in all sincerity no one could have expected this level of greatness. Back in 2010 his ERA as a starter was just under 4. I’ve always thought highly of him, but this is just crazy what he’s doing now.
The Braves know what they have and he’s going to be a fixture in the rotation for the next few seasons. If anyone gets pigeon-holed into the similar role he faced I can see it being one of the younger guys (especially Delgado). Again thanks for the writeup.

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No problem, Bill! Thanks for the insight! I live north of Cincinnati and I don’t catch the Braves very often. They have an excellent core right now and Medlen has been a huge surprise. I snatched him up in a lifetime league right before they sent him down, then, when he came back up and he was pitching in relief, I cut him. Salt on the wounds right now as I am out of the playoffs…Thanks again for reading and keep coming back!

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