Medlen has proven he belongs in the rotation
As most of you likely know, my stance dating back to the winter was that the Braves were best served to have Kris Medlen in their bullpen. Some of this might have been influenced by the fact that we were just a few months removed from a season in which manager Fredi Gonzalez was left with little option other than to use Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel too frequently.
Then when Arodys Vizcaino was lost for the season, the decision seemed to be a no-brainer. In its simplest form, Medlen’s presence in the bullpen would limit the amount of innings, Eric O’Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel would need to complete.
Medlen’s presence, far fewer one-run and extra-inning games and Venters’ struggles all aided in this battle. This year, you will not find Venters, Kimbrel and O’Flaherty at the top of the leaderboard in games pitched. In fact, you won’t even find them on the first page when using MLB.com’s stat database.
With seven weeks remaining in the season, it might be time to put to rest those thoughts that the Braves need Medlen to protect their top relievers. If the Braves want to add some depth to the bullpen, they can attempt to do so via trade before the end of this month. Or when September arrives, they can hope that Peter Moylan proves healthy and productive enough to serve as an asset in the bullpen.
But for now, it probably suits everybody best to simply accept the fact that it will be in the Braves’ best interest to keep Medlen in the starting rotation for the remainder of the season.
The Braves find themselves with the National League’s third-best record despite the fact that neither of the two most reliable pitchers in their rotation — Medlen and Paul Maholm — made a start for them before July 31.
Tim Hudson has been wonderful at times. But until he irons out some of the problems he has had working out of the stretch, you have to fear for some of those big innings that have plagued him (he has allowed four runs in an inning six times in his first 20 starts of the season.
Mike Minor has been as reliable as any pitcher since the beginning of July. But questions surround him courtesy of the struggles he experienced during the season’s first three months combined and the fact he is approaching the end of his first full Major League season (50 innings shy of last year’s combined total).
As for Ben Sheets, he can still pitch like a front-line starter as long as his arm cooperates.
Then of course you have Tommy Hanson, whose decrease in velocity was a concern long before his back suddenly became an issue a couple of weeks ago.
So we’re left to argue that the guy who spent the season’s first four months as a reliever is now one of the Braves’ two most reliable starters. Might be a problem if Medlen had not spent the past couple of years making us believe he was the inspiration for DJ Khaled’s hit song “All I Do Is Win.”
As the Braves attempt to win a four-game series against the Padres tonight, they will send Medlen to the mound to oppose Jason Marquis. There is a good chance they prove victorious. The last time they lost a game started by Medlen, their lineup included Nate McLouth, Troy Glaus, Yunel Escobar and a chubby outfielder named Melky Cabrera. Click here for the box score of the May 23, 2010 loss to the Pirates.
The Braves have won each of the past 14 games that Medlen has started dating back to May 29, 2010. In those 14 games, the versatile right-hander has posted a 3.63 ERA and limited opponents to a .257 batting average.
When Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez made the decision to move Medlen to the starting rotation a couple of weeks ago, some members of the organization told him he would have a tough time moving him back to the bullpen.
So far, those words appear to be prophetic.