Lights Out

I won’t get into the lengthy details of why I am not a fan of innings limits today, but if you want to know what I think, click here.

That being said, the Braves quietly placed an innings limit on one of their young pitchers before the season started.  And unlike the Nationals, they chose to maximize the workload of this pitcher by having him start the year in the bullpen.  He would pitch an inning or two here and there, and his total stayed relatively low for the first 4 months of the season.

Then, the Braves moved Kris Medlen into the starting rotation on July 31, and he has been lights out ever since.  Looking at the numbers, they look more like PlayStation stats than they do like the stats of a MLB pitcher.

In 7 starts, Medlen has compiled a 6-0 record.  He has logged 49 2/3 innings in those 7 starts, notching 50 strikeouts, while allowing a mere 36 hits.  Oh, and he has allowed a whopping 3 earned runs since July 31.  I already did the math for you, and that computes to an ERA of 0.54.  You read that right, an ERA of 0.54.  Unreal.  The last time Medlen gave up an earned run, Hurricane Isaac was not even a thunderstorm, school kids were on summer break, and Mitt Romney had just named Paul Ryan as his running mate.  Medlen was last charged with an earned run August 11 in his start against the Mets; it will be 4 weeks tomorrow, which also is his next start, and will be against the Mets.

The Braves, if it is really true that they thoughtfully worked this plan out before the season, will have a very strong Kris Medlen on the mound for the rest of the season, and into October.  The Nationals on the other hand, will be shooting themselves in the foot after they shut Stephen Strasburg down following his September 12 start.  While comparing the projected roles of Medlen and Strasburg before the season would have been crazy, an argument can be made that Medlen is currently the staff ace for the Braves; at the very least he would be the co-ace with Tim Hudson.  Strasburg is the undisputed ace of the staff for the Nationals, and will not toe the rubber after next Wednesday (if the Nationals stay true to their word).  Nothing against Gio Gonzalez, Ross Detweiler, or Jordan Zimmerman, but the Nationals are more dangerous in October with Strasburg on the mound.  With him, they have a legitimate shot to make a run through the playoffs; without him, the field is wide open.

For the season, Kris Medlen is 7-1, with a 1.56 ERA over 104 innings pitched.  Even if the limit the Braves have in mind is in the ballpark of 160 innings, Medlen still has 8 starts in him (using his 7 start average of about 7 innings per start); I believe the Braves will not shut him down at that mark.  If they have a goal for him, I would venture a guess it would be 180 innings or so, but I could be low on that estimate.  180 innings would give him about 11 more starts or so; considering the Braves have a mere 24 games left in the season, that leaves them with 3-8 starts in the postseason, assuming Medlen takes the ball every 5 days until the end of the season; my 3-8 start estimate would most likely place the Braves deep into the National League playoffs, possibly the World Series, before any talk of an shutting him down would be serious.  Do I think Medlen will continue to be lights out for the rest of the season?  It is unlikely he will continue to put up a 0.54 ERA for the rest of the month, but there is nothing to suggest a crash landing on his part.

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One Response to Lights Out

  1. Pingback: Cy Worthy? « Our Not So Expert Opinions

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