• Exclusives

    Could Medlen be Maddux 2.0?

    Kris Medlen is 6-0 with a 0.54 ERA as a starter this season

    Kris Medlen pitched his second complete game in his last 4 starts on Monday. He allowed but 1 unearned run while striking out 12 Colorado Rockies in another masterful performance. Since shifting back to the starting rotation at the end of August, Kris is 6-0 with a 0.54 ERA in 7 starts.

    Garnering as much attention as the results he’s getting is the way he’s getting them. A fastball resting in the upper 80’s with plenty of movement, a plus breaking ball, an overpowering changeup and surgical command of every pitch. Sound like another right-handed hurler we’ve seen with a tomahawk across his chest?

    As a starter in 2012 (50 innings), Medlen has struck out 50 batters, while walking just 3 batters. THREE. On Monday, it took Medlen until the 6th inning to reach his first 2-ball count.

    It may not be fair to Kris Medlen to compare him to the greatest starting pitcher of a generation, but don’t try to tell me the name “Greg Maddux” hasn’t crossed your mind as you’ve watched him pitch recently. 

    There’s no denying Medlen’s dominance right now. But one question remains:

    Is Medlen really THIS good? Can he keep this up?

    Well, okay, that’s two questions. But here’s the answer… MAYBE. Is he good enough to post a 0.54 ERA over the course of a full season? Of course not. No one is. But could he be Atlanta’s next ace? It’s quite possible.

    Medlen came up through the Braves’ system alongside a more celebrated pitching prospect named Tommy Hanson. They both began the 2009 season at AAA Gwinnett. Medlen was called up a couple of weeks ahead of Hanson and made a few starts as a “placeholder” until Hanson took his place in the Atlanta rotation in early June. But it’s worth noting that Kris Medlen was actually outperforming Hanson at the time of his call-up to the Show.  Medlen was 5-0, 1.19 ERA at AAA in ’09, compared to the 3-3, 1.49 of Hanson.

    No one puts too much stock in AAA numbers, nor should they. But in light of his big league performance both before and especially after his “Tommy John” surgery, it would appear his Gwinnett performance was in fact a sign of things to come. And given Hanson’s diminished velocity, it’s looking as though it may be Kris Medlen, and not Tommy Hanson, who leads this Braves rotation into the future.

    As for the for the Medlen/Maddux comparison… no reasonable person is banking on Medlen to be the next Maddux. Having said that, one can fall short well short of a Greg Maddux benchmark and still achieve an awful lot. And let’s face it… until Kris gives us a reason to stop making the comparison, it will be difficult to resist.

     

     
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