Benefits of a magic bat and Medlen’s presence
Over the past 24 hours, Kris Medlen has received the royal treatment. He has gone nearly a month without allowing an earned run and the Braves have gone more than two years without losing a game that he has started. It seems like everybody wants to talk about him right now.
In fact, before announcing Michael Strahan as Kelly Ripa’s new morning talk show partner, I think the folks at Live with Kelly might have had aspirations to change the name of their show to Live with Kelly and Med Dog.
But before we continue to marvel at what Medlen has accomplished since joining the starting rotation, it might be time to suggest that he begins to use that magic bat that Chipper Jones and David Ross have used during the past two games. Along with not allowing an earned run in his last 37 1/3 innings, Medlen has not had a hit in the 15 plate appearances he has totaled since last allowing an earned runs. Just trying to provide fair and balanced coverage here.
Now back to the bat.
With doom and gloom surrounding the Braves around 8:35 p.m. ET on Sunday night, Jones stepped to the plate and hit a 428-foot walk-off home run that capped a five-run ninth inning comeback and gave his teammates a chance to relax in a celebratory manner. As a veteran player was leaving the clubhouse that night, he yelled, “We’ve won a game, now every one can breathe.” He said this in a light-hearted manner. But there was some validity in the statement.
Less than 24 hours later, Ross grabbed this same bat and drilled the two-run double that essentially took an abrupt left hand turn once it reached center field during Monday’s four-run third inning against the Rockies.
“I’ve hit a couple like that in BP, but never in the game,” Ross said. “I thought when I hit it, I was like shoot, it’s right at (Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler). He’s going to catch that one. He’s a good outfielder. It just took a left turn halfway out there. He asked me if I could teach him that. I said, ‘I have no idea buddy. That’s angels in the outfield.’”
Less than 24 hours after some of you were thinking that nothing was going the Braves’ way, the Braves were building a 3-0 lead over the Rockies without a hit and watching Medlen once again prove to be a calming influence.
Medlen was masterful as he recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts and did not issue a walk while limiting the Rockies to an unearned run in Monday’s victory. He became the fifth pitcher in Braves history to record at least 12 strikeouts and not issue a walk in a complete game.
The other Braves to do this were Greg Maddux (June 27, 1998 vs. Blue Jays), Kevin Millwood (April 14, 1998 vs. Pirates), Bob Sadowski (Sept. 5, 1963 vs. Pirates) John Smoltz (Sept. 6, 1998 vs. Mets). It ‘s incredible that this occurred three times during the 1998 season.
In the seven starts Medlen has made since making the switch from the bullpen to the starting rotation, he has gone 6-0 with a 0.54 ERA. He has recorded 50 strikeouts and issued five walks in 49 2/3 innings. And opponents have hit .206 against him with a .228 on-base percentage.
Medlen’s ERA is more than a run better than the second-best mark (Felix Hernandez 1.65 ERA) during this span. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and A.J. Burnett are the only other pitchers to register more than 50 strikeouts during this time. Each has issued at least 10 walks.