Let’s reminiscence about the great Les “Worm” Murphy from the movie Rounders for a second. Worm, who was brilliantly played by the great Edward Norton, was a guy who cut all the corners to give himself an edge in every endeavor he put himself in. For that reason alone, he wound up in prison and got beaten to a pulp because of such actions. But as he put it, he always had an “ace up his sleeve”, especially when he got a tattoo of the ace of spades on his arm. The Atlanta Braves have their own ace up their sleeve, even without all the dirty tactics Worm possessed. That ace is Kris Medlen, who makes the Braves one of the most dangerous teams during the upcoming MLB playoffs.
There isn’t a better pitcher going in baseball right now than Medlen, who hasn’t lost in his nine starts this season. In fact, the Braves haven’t lost in Medlen’s past twenty starts, tying the best mark in the past fifty years. Medlen isn’t one who gets vulture wins, either. He has earned every single win he has gotten this season. Coming into today, Medlen has a 1.62 ERA in 117 innings pitched. If that isn’t impressive enough, how about his 2.34 FIP and 52.8 GB%.
Why does Kris Medlen matter so much for the Braves? It’s quite simple, actually. Unless the Braves pull off an epic September comeback to overtake the Washington Nationals for the National League East title, they will be forced to play in the one-game playoff. It should also be noted that the Braves have a comfortable lead as the first wild card, so they can align their rotation to have Medlen pitch in that one-game playoff, while the second team they would face would have likely exhausted their best efforts just to have the opportunity to play in it.
There isn’t a team more equipped for a one-game playoffs than the Braves. Outside of Medlen’s brilliance, they also are armed with one of the most lethal bullpens, especially when Craig Kimbrel is closing things out.
Medlen hasn’t pitched enough innings to warrant the NL Cy Young award, but he should definitely get some votes for the way he has anchored the Braves’ rotation the past month or so. For Atlanta’s sake, I hope their ace up their sleeve works out a little better than Worm’s mechanic’s grip.
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