Kris Medlen

You have to root for this guy, and not just because he can help the Braves. A tenth-round pick and only a part-time pitcher in college, Medlen worked his way into a major league rotation, only to blow out his elbow in the middle of the 2010 season. He missed nearly all of 2011, pitching mopup duty in a couple of games at the end of the year. Bobby was using him as a swingman (something Bobby rarely did) in 2010, Medlen starting 14 games and relieving in 17. He pitched better as a reliever (3.04) than a starter (3.86) largely because of home runs; he allowed 12 in 84 innings as a starter, but just one in 23 2/3 as a reliever. That may just be a fluke, and at any event most pitchers do better in relief than starting, because they don’t have to pace themselves.

Anyway, for a young starter that’s a pretty good ERA, and I have no reason to think that if he could stay healthy he could do that job and do it well. However, he is returning from an elbow injury, and the Braves have several starting pitching candidates whom they have rated ahead of him. So Kris will probably be in the bullpen. In 2009, I thought he looked like a potential bullpen ace, but his strikeout rate plummeted in 2010, from 9.6/9 to 6.9, and that’s not the profile of an eighth or ninth inning guy. However, in his minor league career his rate was 10.4, and I am going to guess that the low rate in 2010 was due to some combination of his changing role and his injury, or maybe just a fluke. I think he will fit in just fine with the top relievers and give the team the righthanded setup man — and depth — that they needed so desperately down the stretch last season. Long-term, I am still of the opinion that he can be a good mid-rotation starter, but I don’t know if that will happen in this organization.

Kris Medlen Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com.

54 thoughts on “Kris Medlen”

  1. I like the idea of a swingman. It’s really gone out of fashion, but it can really help a pitching staff. Takes some pressure off the bullpen in blowouts and eliminates the need to call up pitchers from the minors for spot starts. I imagine it might be hard on the arm.

  2. Didn’t Fredi use the lisp as a swingman last year? Or is my age showing by playing tricks with my memory?

  3. You know I was a little concerned about this year, but when I read the headline that Gonzalez senses “good vibe” after first workout, my fears have gone. (-;

  4. @ 5 – Id guess its progressive. That much wear and tear will break down anything over an extended period of time. I know some college players are having TJ surgery with no signs of pains. Basically it gives them a brand new stronger elbow. It could probably be considered performance enhancing, but you could never prove anything like that. A doctor could always write down anything he/she chooses.

  5. Fave swingman of all-time: Ramiro Mendoza, probably the most overlooked guy on that last Yankee dynasty.

    (I always liked him because he was somehow both goofy & mysterious. I never remember him talking to the press, just his teammates saying how weird he was.)

    Having spot-start/long-relief guys who throw over 100 generally effective innings is incredibly valuable.

    Of course, he did go down with a shoulder injury, but only after about 8 mostly good years.

  6. @6,

    One time I would like to see a manager come out in a press conference and say, “we had a bad vibe out there and we are doooomed!”

  7. Off topic: Is there such a thing as a fungo bat designed for hitting softballs? Will a regular fungo bat work equally as well?

    Thanks!

  8. Dunno if there’s a specific softball fungo. But many years ago, when I was a softball coach, I used an aluminum fungo that was considered “all-purpose” (for both baseball & softball).

  9. #16 – I dont know if one is designed striclty for softball or not, but you may want to look at the longer version (37″) for softball purposes.

  10. I thought I remembered the Lisp starting one game, but maybe that was in 2010 under Bobby. But I suppose a swingman would start more than one game every two years anyway.

  11. BMac’s doubles totals through the years:

    7, 34, 38, 42, 35, 25, 19

    He’s gone from one of the best doubles hitters in the NL to one of the worst over the last two seasons. I think we’d all like to see that number rebound. He’s only 28, but he’s caught a lot of games over the last six years, and I’d be overjoyed to hear any plan to lose some weight in order to extend his career. It’s time.

  12. Yadier Molina got a contract extension worth around $75MM tonight.

    What does that mean?

    Brian McCann, you’re going to be an extremely wealthy man.

  13. sdp @ 24,

    I think it also means that the Cardinals are out of touch with reality. (a) that Yadier Molina is really a really good player and (b) that a catcher who is not a superlative hitter is worth that kind of money wehn he is already carrying years.

  14. Yes, Brian is gone-name the team.

    Could his reduced number of doubles correspond to more home runs? If you are stronger, perhaps some of the balls that hit the fence are going out. Or maybe it’s just a random occurance; he had a couple of years where he had lots of doubles and this is a return to normalcy.Don’t know, just speculating.

  15. Has 5/$75 million for Molina been confirmed, or just rumored? I’ve also seen $60 million, and “over $10 million per season”.

    I certainly don’t see us paying McCann $15 million per season, or extending him for five years. Well, they might extend him that long, although I wouldn’t. Three years, yes. Four, maybe. Five, I don’t think so.

    @27

    He hits the same number of HRs every year, you know that. It’s particularly important for McCann to get himself to second base, as he’s almost impossible to drive in from first base on a ball in play.

  16. @28,

    I agree with respect to McCann needing to get to second. I think doubles are generally underrated anyway. I wonder if there is a correlation between teams that hit lots of doubles and runs scored?

  17. $11.5 million, but even then it’s something of a balloon payment (albeit to an overall team-friendly contract).

  18. Better hope its just two weeks.

    DOB – Awaiting word from Braves as to exact nature of Freeman’s injury, whether it’s a sprain and severity. I was told more than a strain when I was in clubhouse. Freeman had it iced after workout, but wasn’t distraught or anything like that.

  19. DOB – •#Braves 1B Freddie Freeman has sublux of right patella (kneecap). That’s a partial dislocation. Knee is stable, reevaluation Wed. 2 hours ago

  20. Sure would be nice to have Prado in that Super Utility role with the big bat in LF now.

    Didn’t you read that piece from Baghdad Bowman? The Braves players are ecstatic that no real moves were made.

  21. I think I’m losing it — I used to be able to tell when Jeff Schulz was trying to be funny:

    http://tinyurl.com/7wzzxqt

    Who cares if you’re slow…think fast! Honestly, did Chuck Tanner write this? It’s so bad even most of the AJC commenters are ridiculing him.

  22. So with Freeman’s injury, maybe Joey-Terds gets a little longer look than he might have otherwise?

    (Reaching for opportunities to say “Joey-Terds”)

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