The Atlanta Braves are looking to begin the season 3-0 for the first time since 2007. Kris Medlen will get the start in Thursday night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies as he attempts to begin in 2013 where he left off in 2012.
Following the historic conclusion to 2012, Medlen looks to be the potential ace of the staff in 2013. On the surface, that appears to be a tall task for a pitcher who hasn’t made 15 starts in one season and is just two years removed from Tommy John surgery. However, he finished the 2012 season with a 9-0 record and 0.97 in 12 starts.
Obviously, Medlen will not go an entire season with an ERA less than one, but Braves’ fans hope he can regain some of that magic. Medlen is at his best when his devastating changeup is working. This makes his fastball appear even more lively, and he can work in his breaking pitches to give him four plus pitches. He attacks hitters on the mound and isn’t afraid to work inside to both right and left-handed hitters.
Medlen will have the challenge of shutting down Ryan Howard on Thursday night. So far, the Braves have kept Howard from recording a hit (0-for-8), but the left-hander has a .571 average, two home runs and four RBIs in just seven plate appearances in his career against Medlen. Keeping him and Chase Utley — who is off to a 4-for-9 start — from producing in RBI situations will go a long way in stifling the Phillies’ offense.
Medlen has started to draw comparisons to Braves’ legend Greg Maddux due to his stature, movement on his pitches and command, but he has a long ways to go to get into the conversation with Maddux. Starting 30-plus games for the first time in his career in 2013 would be a good start, and starting 1-0 with a sweep over the Phillies also wouldn’t hurt.