Braves 6, Rockies 1

Colorado Rockies vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – September 3, 2012

So, it’s completely ridiculous to compare to Kris Medlen to Greg Maddux. For one thing, his scoreless inning streak ended at 34 2/3, nearly five innings less than the 39 1/3 inning streak that Greg Maddux managed in 2000. Second of all, the Braves are 21-4 in his 25 starts in the majors, for an .840 team winning percentage, while Greg Maddux’s teams were 431-309 in his 740 starts, for a .582 team winning percentage. Maddux’s career K/BB was 3.37; Medlen’s is 3.52.

So clearly Medlen isn’t Greg Maddux. But he’s still pretty darned good. Like today, for instance, when he went 9 innings and allowed just five hits and one unearned run — really truly unearned, the runner scored when Paul Janish threw the ball away, and Medlen struck out the next two men to end the inning. Medlen struck out 12 men in total, by far the Braves’ season high; the previous high was nine. It was the most strikeouts by a Braves pitcher since Tommy Hanson punched out 14 men in on June 12, 2011, which sort of seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?

Anyway, the Braves offense somehow scored six runs on five hits, because Rockie starting pitcher really truly couldn’t find the plate, and the Rockies threw the ball all over the infield in the first inning. The Braves scored their first three runs without recording a hit, and by the end of the third inning, it was 6-0, with the Braves having gotten just two hits but having gotten the benefit of five walks and two errors.

That was, needless to say, all Medlen would need.

66 thoughts on “Braves 6, Rockies 1”

  1. Of course, he’s not Greg Maddux. Who said he was? Why are you so quick jumping the gun on the 34 2/3, nearly five innings less than the 39 1/3 of Maddux, when it was (like you even said) clearly unearned. That shouldn’t have even been mentioned. Medlen could have went longer than Maddux I believe, credited the offense held their shit together.

  2. Re the AJC comment from previous thread:

    To paraphrase a former president, is there no limit to how stupid a person can be? Apparently not.

    I have to say, I don’t really understand benching Uggla now when he is at least hitting some home runs and getting on base.

  3. It’s obviously way too earlier to project a Madduxian career for Medlen. But Medlen, more than any other pitcher I’ve seen since Maddux, reminds me just how much fun it was to watch the master work. When he’s on (which he seemingly has been nonstop since moving to the rotation), Medlen just carves hitters up, and he has that very Maddux like two-seamer that freezes lefties and cuts back in over the corner. So much fun.

  4. Impossible to know how much longer Medlen can keep this up, but it’s hard to be any better than Medlen was today. He had complete command of all four pitches, and that changeup was so devastating that it reminded me of John Smoltz’s slider.

  5. My question is whether there are actually certain pitchers that can achieve better results when in the rotation rather than in the bullpen. Current baseball knowledge attests that the reason that bullpen pitchers perform more efficiently (as measured by ERA, FIP, SIERA) than starting is pitchers is that by allowing the pitcher to focus on a much smaller groups of batters with a smaller number of required pitches, the pitcher achieves superior results.

    But does this apply to every pitcher? Just as ‘classic’ sabermetric thought (it’s actually hard to imagine we’re at the point of classic and modern sabermetric thought in just a few short years) once dictated that pitchers like Tim Hudson were not as valuable as their rate stats would suggest because they were essentially getting ‘lucky’ with their BABIP and GB rate (which has now changed), are we close to finding that certain pitchers are actually better in starting roles?

  6. To hear Medlen tell it, starting is less stressful on his arm, and he seems to get more out of the strategy element of starting (versus just going out there and letting your stuff do all the work for an inning or so).

  7. just got back from teh lake for the weekend, of course the first place to check in on how the last few days have gone is here. Not many braves fans north of the border. braves journal has always been a place to come and be part of a conversation that I could never be part of elsewhere, even if it is mostly as a lurker. RIP Mac, thanks for making this place.

  8. #3
    Command. That’s the thing and, yup, that’s what makes him comparable to Maddux right now. WC-game starter?

    Anyone going to Chipper’s final stop in Flushing next weekend?

  9. @4 & 5-

    I’ve often wondered if the (rejected, I think) concept of “Catcher ERA” couldn’t be updated. My thought was, maybe you could examine, across several seasons, how starters with a particular catcher did, versus league average, their second and third times through the lineup. I’m referencing your comments because of the mention of strategy- it seems plausible that if a certain catcher’s batterymates consistently outperformed MLB-average as they got deeper in games, you could argue that how the catcher called pitches/set batters up in later at-bats was making a difference.

  10. Holy cow, I love Medlen. I just love him. The way he pitches, the way he carries himself. What he’s got going on right now is really fun to be a part of, as a fan.

  11. 7,

    Man, I wish I could attend his final Mets series.


    I agree that the concepts are probably very closely related.

  12. I was also thinking about the Maddux comparison a good bit while watching Medlen pitch today. It was hard not too when it was like the fifth or sixth inning and he had his first 2-ball count of the day. The similarities are pretty striking: similar build and athleticism, great command, consistent delivery that seems to be identical for all of his different pitches. He has an excellent changeup and he can throw a different fastball to different sides of the plate and to left and righthanded batters. On the other hand, I remember Maddux’s different fastballs having a lot more movement, and not just that insane two-seamer, which has to be up there with Rivera’s cutter as one of the greatest pitches in the history of the game. He had a wicked changeup of course, but it seems like there were lots of games where Maddux’s fastballs were all so good he barely had to mix in the changeup. I have to think that without that kind of weapon batters are going to figure out ways to hit Medlen harder than they have been. On the other hand, I don’t remember Maddux ever really having an effective curve. It’s a pitch I seem to remember him sneaking in once or twice a game (am I misremembering)? So if Medlen can keep improving his curve that might be one slight advantage he has over Maddux.

  13. The flag may indeed be at half-mast, but I trust that’s in a half full rather than half empty kind of way

  14. @7: I’d like to to see Chipper’s last NYC game (other than the WS appearances against the Yankees this year, of course), but do you think it will be Saturday or Sunday? He gets a lot of Sundays off.

  15. I suggest that we might want to have Medlen pitch a little more before we start comparing him to a Hall of Fame pitcher. He’s been great, but Maddux?

  16. Oh, I mean, there’s no comparison, obviously. Maddux was a Hall of Farmer, and Kris Medlen is just a guy with the exact same number of letters in his first and last name, who pitches for the same team, and has the exact same movement and command of his fastball and changeup.

    Obviously, it would be premature to make any comparisons, so I naturally won’t.

  17. Marc I don’t think anybody is suggesting Medlen is going to have a career comparable to Maddux. The chances of that are so slight as to be almost nonexistent. On the other hand, it’s a fact that right now he is pitching consistently at a level that the Braves haven’t really seen since Maddux, and doing it in lots of the same ways. It’s interesting too that already after Medlen’s Nationals start Chipper was bringing up the Mad Dog comparison. I only read the quote, so tone can be hard to nail down, but the tone of it seemed like he was plenty wary of making that kind of comparison flippantly.

  18. When you google Greg Maddux, the news stories that come up are about Kris Medlen. Coincidence? I think not.

  19. This just shows how much we love Maddux. Medlen is completely awesome. hope he will become another Maddux for us. Nothing wrong with wishing, right?

  20. Don’t get me wrong. Medlen has been fantastic and, really a life saver. And I love the complete games. There are no excuses this year for the bullpen being tired.

  21. Once we get Medlen to wear Harry Potter glasses and start swearing loudly after missing a pitch, the valmorphanization will be complete.

  22. Whatever we call him, we have a stopper. Whether or not he sustains this level of play we have an ace, number one, top of the rotation, whatever. If Fredi was smart ( yes I know I am setting myself up here) the rotation is set so that Medlen gets the important games.

    I too thought it was strange that they decided to bench Uggla. The .340 OBP is worth something. He isn’t playing better than Johnson I guess. But he is a damn sight better than Juan Francisco.

  23. Med Dog sounds like someone who hasn’t taken his meds.

    Well, he could pinch-hit on Sunday, like he did in SF.

    Pretty sure I’m going to Sat/Sun. Working on the Friday night, when the Mets (I’m told) will honor Chipper before the game. The Padres gave him a surfboard—do the Mets give him a Metrocard for the 7 train?

  24. A bottle of urine?
    A bounced check?
    A medical misdiagnosis?
    A bronze medal?

    No, the proper gift for the Mets to give Chipper Jones is probably a 10 year/ $250 million contact. Purely Metsian.

  25. We are in the stretch run, and it deserves our focus, but a future rotation that starts Medlen and Beachy is worth thinking about. With Heyward, Freeman & Simmons, there is a good chance of another competitive run, TV deals be damned. Note the obvious omission of McCann who I’m afraid has a future elsewhere.

  26. Remember when everyone was writing off Prado after 2011? Let’s give McCann one more season before we sign off on his .228 BABIP as a complete loss of baseball skill rather than just an extended stretch of bad luck or nagging injuries.

  27. “Med Dog” is absolutely fantastic.

    Kris Medlen is just a guy with the exact same number of letters in his first and last name

    If you’re so inclined, you could divvie (divvy?) up the entire history of the Atlanta Braves into four distinct eras, with every season accounted for and virtually no overlap, using pitchers with the same number of letters in their first and last names:

    1966-1983 The Phil Niekro Era
    1984-1987 The Jeff Dedmon Era
    1988-2008 The John Smoltz Era
    2009-2012 The Kris Medlen Era

    OK, Dedmon threw 4 innings in ’83, and Smoltz missed 2000, but still. I have no idea what this means.

  28. It’s the loss of power that concerns me more about McCann’s performance this year rather than the low batting average. I think its clear that the shoulder was really giving him problems. Hopefully he’ll be better off with the cortisone shots he’s gotten lately.

  29. There was a reason to be hopeful about Prado (i.e. it was the MRSA.) There’s reason to be hopeful about McCann (i.e. he has a track record of success.) There is also reason to be concerned about McCann (i.e. he’s a catcher with a lot of wear and tear on his body, and his eyes have been wonky for years now.)

    A team with a limited payroll can’t afford to take big chances on banged up, possibly fading catchers, even if they’re hometown favorites.

    “Med Dog” is pure, unalloyed genius.

  30. Also, my money is on Chipper playing on Sunday in New York. No way he sits that one out. I would say it’s not even really up to Fredi.

  31. 37,

    I agree that he’s gonna be better. Even if he’s not, he has a .173 ISO this year vs. a .197 ISO for his career; a .02 loss is not much. That’s two singles instead of two doubles every 100 at bats, if my math is correct.

  32. I wonder if the arrival of McCann’s son has been some distraction for him? Maybe when he’s in town he is getting the “get out of bed in the middle of the night” duties. McCann seems like the kind of guy who would not try to shirk any fatherly duties just because his job makes him keep unusual hours and travel schedules. But maybe that “not shirking” is affecting his performance on the field.

  33. In related news, I’m completely capable of ignoring the existence of Posnanski’s Paterno bio and continuing to love everything else he does.

  34. @45-

    Some would argue that Posnaski’s book is him ignoring the existence of the Sandusky scandal and continuing to love Paterno. :-o

  35. Just got the news about Mac after the Labor Day weekend. Good writeup AAR, I’m sure it wasn’t easy to write. I have posted much more in the past, this year I’ve been lurking, but always reading. As I’ve stated before, this has been and will continue to be my favorite website since the day I read it, which I believe was sometime after the Joey Devine game. I just can’t believe Mac is gone, and like all of us, will miss his sarcasm and wit greatly. As JC said, pour some sarcasm out in his honor.

    I’m not sure what else to write, but I just wanted to say a few words in his honor, you will be greatly missed, but you’ve left a lasting legacy. It feels so weird to use the past tense when talking about a great one.

  36. Posnanski’s article has been posted on the main page of the Braves website under the “Headlines” section.

    Very cool.

  37. The point is not whether McCann can still be a good player. I’m sure he can. But, even if he won the Triple Crown (or, especially if he did), it’s not clear the Braves could or should afford him. Really, you can’t say whether or not the Braves should try to resign him until you know how much he wants and how much the Braves will have to spend. Actually, his struggles probably make him more affordable if they try to resign him next year but a catcher in his thirties is not in the prime of his career.

  38. “Med Dog”, “Turner Field Jones”, the wonderfully bizarre post at #36…y’all are on a roll today.

  39. @47 – True. Ignoring the bad in someone or something you really like is sort of an essentially human trait though, and Posnanski’s gig has long been approaching his subjects with large helpings of humanity, thus it seems completely right that he wrote the book the way he did. That’s not to say that it makes for a very good book, but it makes for a very honestly Posnanskian book. It’s entirely possible that he simply shouldn’t have written a Paterno book at all, but I don’t think that it would have made any sense or been any better to see him tear apart someone that he genuinely liked the way many critics seem to have wanted him to. I’m willing to say that he handled a rotten situation with as much grace as could’ve been expected out of anyone in the same situation. It was a bad outcome but still a better one than circumstances might have dictated.

  40. Medlen is a victory for the true pitcher, not the radar lighter uppers, or the bonus babies. He pitches. Even if he throws a ‘waste’ pitch, none of his pithces are wasted.

    He has command of all his stuff, never throws the same thing in the same place at the same speed. Has repeatable mechanics and throws just hard enough to make batters respect his fastball.

  41. @47 – “the good that men do is oft interred with their bones”

    The Rockies young shortstop is hitting close to .350 and looks very slick in the field. Wonder if Tulo would like to play 3B in Atlanta next year?
    @54 – bless you. Finally, someone that understands!

  42. He has command of all his stuff, never throws the same thing in the same place at the same speed. Has repeatable mechanics and throws just hard enough to make batters respect his fastball.

    Same thing with Beachy.

  43. Tonight we get the anti-Medlen, alas. Maybe Tommy Hanson can get throw five tonight without imploding.

  44. Need to score early and often. If you get him runs, Hanson can usually give you a few decent innings. He needs some leeway for the bad innings he inevitably has.

  45. You know if Fredi is willing to sit Uggla at this point, he almost has to be willing to sit Hanson. Id rather have Delgado, Sheets, or Teheran getting these innings if he cant get his command back.

    #59 – True

  46. I would hope it would be Delgado getting another shot (barring an unlikely turnaround by Hanson). Sheets may have given us all he has for the time being, and Teheran may need to chill out after a rough years. Delgado could probably use the vote of confidence after getting sent down earlier in the season.

  47. I’m kind of surprised Mac is not getting any credit for that double by Ross that moved 30 – 40 feet to left field.

    The erratic ball movement smacked of a scene from the movie Angels in the Outfield.

  48. @65 Yeah, I actually thought at the time, that Mac had deflected the ball in that absurd way. It’s probably his kind of humour and a message by him that he’s watching.

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