Medlen righted himself at the end of cold and miserable season debut
There certainly were not many positive developments to take from Thursday night’s 2-0 loss to the Phillies. Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon limited the Braves to two singles on a cold, blustery night that led Brian Jordan to reminisce about a game he once played for the Falcons at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
But somewhere in the midst of the miserable evening, Kris Medlen might have regained the swagger that he possessed during last year’s dominant run as a starting pitcher.
Medlen allowed 14 hits and nine runs against the Phillies on March 18. He then allowed six runs and eight hits in five innings against the Nationals his next time out. But you know the deal. One should never concern themselves with statistics or results from Spring Training.
Unfortunately the second part of this rule is often forgotten. The full commandment is, “Thou shall not worry about Spring Training results until affected player struggles during the earliest portions of the regular season.”
So as Medlen loaded the bases during a 27-pitch scoreless first inning, it was hard to ignore that he had looked much more like Chris Reitsma than Greg Maddux during Spring Training. Things did not get any better as he issued a six-pitch walk to Lee to load the bases in Philadelphia’s two-run second inning.
But Medlen looked much more like himself as he totaled 43 pitches and kept the Phillies scoreless over his final three innings. He notched two strikeouts in a perfect nine-pitch, fifth inning and might have been perfect in the fourth inning had Freddie Freeman been able to secure Jimmy Rollins’ double before it squirted past the first base bag.
Medlen said the command issues he has battled dating back to Spring Training have been a product of him rushing his delivery. His inability to consistently repeat his delivery prevented him from displaying the pinpoint command that was present as he issued a total of 10 walks while compiling a 0.97 ERA in 12 starts last year.
The four walks issued by Medlen last night were his highest total since he issued five in two of his first five career starts, including his May 21, 2009 Major League debut.
But by the time Medlen stumbled off the frozen mound last night, it appeared he had righted himself in time for Tuesday night’s matchup against the Marlins in Miami. Just 27 of his first 49 pitches were strikes through Thursday’s first two innings. But in his final three innings, he threw 30 of his 43 pitches for strikes and looked more like the Med Dog of old.
Now the Braves will turn to Mike Minor in tonight’s series opener against the Cubs. Minor allowed 14 runs in the last 10 innings he completed during the Grapefruit League seasons. I am completely honest when I say that I truly believe this was a product of him simply toying with such things as the two-seamer that is not even close to being regular season-ready yet.
But if the Cubs score a couple of runs in the first couple innings, remember the “Spring Training results don’t matter” creed does include an oft-forgotten second verse.