Medlen still projected to begin the season as a reliever
While limiting the Mets to one hit over four scoreless innings on Saturday, Kris Medlen attempted to give the Braves more reason to consider putting him in the rotation to start the year. But it appears, the versatile hurler did nothing more than provide the Braves even more reason to feel comfortable about moving him to a starting role if necessary.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Sunday morning that Medlen’s next appearance will likely be a two or three-inning relief stint. In other words, the club has stuck with the plan to stretch him out to four innings before beginning to use him in the relief role that he is projected to fill at the start of the season.
Even before Medlen allowed just one run through the first eight innings he has completed in the exhibition season, some of you believed he should be put in the rotation ahead of Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran. Most of this was fueled by memories of him going 5-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 starts for the 2010 Braves.
If there was just one game or one series involved, there is no doubt that Medlen is the better option than Delgado and Teheran right now. But as long as one of those young pitchers can at least prove serviceable in the rotation, Medlen provides greater value courtesy of the depth he provides a bullpen that has already lost Arodys Vizcaino.
Medlen’s presence should lessen the stress placed on Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty. His changeup gives him the ability to retire left-handed hitters and he can work multiple innings if necessary.
I know you’ve read those sentences 50 times over the past couple months. So to quickly update you on the Medlen front: Nothing has changed.
Nothing has necessarily changed on the Andrelton Simmons/Tyler Pastornicky front either. It is still too early to confidently say which will begin the year as Atlanta’s starting shortstop. But Pastornicky seemed to make some strides in the right direction on Saturday, when he generated three productive plate appearances and admitted after the game that he was more comfortable than he had been over the previous couple weeks.
Nobody can argue against the fact that Simmons will always be the flashier more impressive option. Click here to see the outstanding play the kid made against the Mets yesterday afternoon. But he’s never faced pitching above the Class A level and has just one full professional season under his belt. In the best interest of his future, it’s best that he spends a few months at the Minor League level.
One of the primary reason scouts and players began questioning whether the Braves should go with Simmons stemmed from the fact that Pastornicky did not look comfortable at the plate or in the field. Pastornicky admitted yesterday that he has been pressing. If he can relax and prove productive over the next couple of weeks, then the Braves can allow Simmons to make a more normal progression toward the big leagues.
If you have not had a chance, please check out the Jeff Porter story that was posted on Friday night.