Kris Medlen hardly labored on labor day. The Rockies however worked very hard and still didn’t get a result. For Medlen it was his second complete game
shutout – well it should have been a shutout but a rare error by Paul Janish allowed the Rockies a consolation run. That error also stopped Medlen’s scoreless inning streak at 34 2/3 innings just five shout of the man Braves fans – and Chipper Jones – compare him too almost every start; Greg Maddux.
On August 29th after Medlen threw eight shutout innings against San Diego – 17 total in two consecutive starts against them – Chipper Jones coined the phrase Maddux-esque. Even if he didn’t coin it Chipper gets credit for it because it was in the post game tweet.
“Medlen is Maddux-esque rite now, only Med has a better pick-off move! , , ,”
So forever more Maddux –esque belongs to Chipper and describes Medlen. I digress.
The New and Improved Maddux
It’s really easy to see why Medlen is compared to Maddux. I’ll list just a few reasons.
Like Maddux, Medlen is a calm relaxed figure on the mound– not a sullen and stern faced or even stoic, just calm.confident and sure about what he’s doing. How calm? As Medlen was geting ready to warm up for the eighth inning David Ross told David O’Brein of the AJC that he looked up to see something typically Medlen.
“He was, like, dancing to some song,” Ross said, smiling and shaking his hips to show the subtle movement Medlen gave him during Monday’s game. “Some ‘80s song they were playing, he was out there dancing between innings. I love it.”
Like Maddux he makes it all look easy, he gets a sign throws a pitch and the batter swings and misses or puts it into play giving the defense a chance to do their job.
Like Maddux he’s usually on target, hitting the glove wherever David Ross puts it. On the rare occasions that he misses he usually misses off the plate and out of the zone.
Like Maddux nothing ruffles Medlen. When Janish threw the ball away ending his scoreless inning streak, Medlen struck out the next two batters; the last man looking.
Unlike Maddux, Medlen keeps runners pinned to the bag. Even those who steal a lot of bases have been victimized by the fastest, most accurate pickoff move of any right hander in the game today. I’ve never seen a better one period. I’m wandering again, back to today’s game.
Rocking the Rockies to Sleep
From the first inning on Medlen set the pace. Whenever the Rockies tried to disrupt it he’d simply take control back. He struck out a career high 12 batters today five of them looking. Most of those caught looking simply walked away shaking their head after confirming that yes, the ball did actually move that much that late and slice the edge off the plate. For me, a guy who likes to see an artist at work, this was a superbly entertaining game. His final numbers were:
As a starter Medlen’s ERA is 0.23 in 39 1/3 innings through five starts. While his scoreless inning streak ended he’s still on track for a far more difficult record. His 37 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run puts him in pretty nifty company.
Indicates Hall of Fame Pitchers
Medlen was indeed masterful today but of course no pitcher wins the game by himself.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez finally got the message on his old pal Dan Uggla. Before Sunday’s game he told Uggla that he would be sitting more often unless things changed. Afterward the skipper told Uggla that Martin Prado was the second baseman and he was now the backup; a $13 million backup but a backup nonetheless. Uggla’s always been a team player but this I’m sure was like a knife to the heart for a man who lays it all on the line every game. He told reporters today that Gonzalez was fully aware of his feelings after their meeting. He went on to tell Mark Bowman:
“I understand what my numbers are. I’m not blind to any of that, but at the same time, I’m part of the team that got us to where we are now,” Uggla said. “Numbers do not mean anything to me in September. Some people don’t see it that way. Do I agree with it? No. But it’s not my call. All I can do is pull for my teammates and do what I can when I get an opportunity.”
Uggla’s comment about numbers doesn’t make sense. His implication is that no matter how bad he’s been this year – and he has been awful for most of it – when September comes around he’ll do better.
(Boring numbers stuff follows.If you’re adverse to such things jump past the next ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We can get a peek at how true that is by looking at his tOPS. The tOPS stat indicates how a players OPS (slugging + OBP) in this split – in our case the last two months of the season – stands in relation to the rest of the season. A number above 100 indicates he did better below indicates he did worse. The other stat shown -sOPS- compares our player to the rest of the league.
Uggla’s September/October numbers have been good but his tOPS shows that only in 2009 and 2011 did he do then than in the rest of the year. In 2010 he was down slightly. This happened because even though his average was better then than in every other year his numbers for the rest of the year were higher. That matches with 2010 being Uggla’s best year at the plate of his career.
The other interesting notes is that Uggla’s BAbip in September always exceeds his actual BA by a significant amount. In other words he’s always been extremely lucky in September/October. A check shows that his luck is year long meaning September/October are no luckier than July. The numbers are all relative but if his OPS is already down his usual relative performance only takes them lower.
Historically Uggla’s tOPS will be about 96. This year his line – .208/.340/.373 – gives him an OPS of .713 through August and a projected OPS lower than that.
Uggla’s currently next to last in OPS amongst Braves regulats leading only the injured Brian McCann. Nothing in his historical performance indicates he’ll be better just because the calendar’s changed to September no matter how much he thinks it will happen.
Gonzalez plan is to use Reed Johnson and Jose Constanza in left field and move Juan Francisco into the primary third base backup role behind Chipper. That worked today and I love having Johnson against lefties. I do not have the same confidence in Jose Constanza as our primary number two hitter. He got a bunt down today and a hit later but the opposition wasn’t in the class of those we have to beat to get where we want to go. The return of Andrelton Simmons will help a lot and we may see him in that second spot eventually ( I hope) with Constanza at the bottom or in the eight hole.
Gwinnett ended its season today and that cleared the way for Julio Teheran (who’s picture was used on a story about the most disappointing non-injured top prospects in 2012) and Cory Gearrin to join the team tomorrow finishing out the Braves planned call ups. If Ross’ injury worsens and McCann’s shoulder doesn’t improve we could still get a catcher who can swing the bat better than J.C. Boscan. (Please let it be so. . . adding the catcher I mean not Ross getting worse.) Also of note was the non-recall of Jair Jurrjens. JJ did not take his relegation to the bullpen well. After one inning you may recall he found an injury then was sent to Gwinnett to rehab. As far as I know that will be his last stop as a Brave. I see him as a definite nontender in November and off to seek work with Houston, Kansas City or the Mariners next year. I wish it had ended differently. When he was good he was a joy to watch but he became fragile physically and was unable to cope with the results mentally. I hope he finds his way back.
That’s a Wrap
The Braves did what they were supposed to do today by beating an inept and at times demoralized looking Rockies team with a porous defense. Tomorrow we get a look at Drew Pomeranz , a left handed rookie who was once the Indians’ best prospect sacrificed to the Rockies in the ill advised Ubaldo Jimenez trade. That means we’ll see Johnson in left and Chipper at third. I have no idea who will catch – somebody tell Eddie Perez to sign a contract quick. In return we send out Tommy Hanson in what’s probably his last opportunity to avoid becoming Miguel Batista’s dominos partner in the bullpen. Waiting in the wings should Tommy trip early is Randall Delgado who took his demotion like a pro and performed better than Teheran in Atlanta and at Gwinnett. I’d like to be hopeful that Hanson found the magic bullet in the last four days but I’m not. I expect him to be on a short leash and Delgado preheated awaiting a call.