Kris Medlen should start off the season as the #2 starter in the Braves rotation – let’s get that out of the way. Let me say that I’m one of the biggest supporters of Medlen and believe he will have a great year this season. Back in 2010, I was screaming for Bobby Cox’s job when he would start Medlen for a month then put him back in the bullpen. I knew he had a future in the Braves rotation – but then one of the worse injures a ball player could inquire happened to Kris, Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss an entire year on the mound. With a full year back with the Braves in 2012 Medlen excelled, winning back-to-back pitcher of the month in August and September.
Most columns about Atlanta’s starting rotation this offseason have been placing Kris Medlen at the top of the order. As I don’t completely disagree with this, I’d like to see a little bit more out of him before I call him the Braves’ Ace.
Coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2012, Medlen only started 12 games and didn’t get his first start until July 31st. Obviously, if you were paying any attention to the Braves in August or September you would know he pitched lights out after getting his first start. But, only 12 starts. In 2010, before his surgery, he started 14 games for Atlanta and in 2009 he started four games in a Braves uniform. So in four seasons at the MLB level, Medlen has only 30 starts to his name. Even in the minors he had only 23 starts before being called up.
Starting experience may be one of the few flaws that Medlen has. He brings with him a five-pitch arsenal including a filthy changeup that he has a career whiff rate of 44%. Medlen’s two-seam fastball only reaches in the range of 89-92 mph and his ability to hit a spot reminds us of one of Atlanta’s greatest pitchers, Greg Maddux.
In 2012, the Atlanta Braves offense did help Medlen out by giving him an average of 6.0 runs per game he started. Even though Kris didn’t need most of those runs, his ERA was 1.57, I’m sure he enjoyed the help. He owned a 4.3 WAR in 2012 and his WHIP was .913. He doesn’t give up many homeruns, MLB career .7 per 9 but does strikeout many, career 7.9 per 9.
If Kris Medlen continues the success he displayed in 2012, the Atlanta Braves could have an MVP pitcher and the ace we’re all looking for. He still hasn’t reached his prime year age yet as he turned 27 two days after the Cardinals defeat last October. I’m hoping for his 2013 numbers to back his 2012 ones but for right now, for the sake of experience, I’d prefer Medlen as our number two pitcher.