Last year, Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen became the team’s ace, breaking records on his way to a 10-1 mark and a 1.57 ERA. And he did so while making just 12 starts after beginning the season with 38 relief appearances, impressing Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez so much that he was chosen to start the first-ever wild-card play-in game. Although Atlanta was ultimately defeated by the St. Louis Cardinals, Medlen turned in another excellent performance.
This season, Tim Hudson was selected to start for the Braves on Opening Day, which baffled many fans who expected Medlen to get the nod. However, despite the 37-year-old Hudson’s experience, most still viewed the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Medlen as the club’s no. 1 starter.
It’s not that Medlen has been bad. On the contrary, he has been solid. So solid, in fact, that his ERA currently sits at 2.16. His record is just 1-2, which can be attributed more to a lack of run support than anything. The thing is, I still find myself wondering, “What’s wrong with Medlen?”
Don’t take that as a slight against the diminutive right-hander. I mean it as a compliment. When a guy is so good that you start to worry any time he gives up a run, it speaks quite highly of his talent.
I guess I’m just another Braves fan who was spoiled by Medlen’s 2012 heroics, who expected the guy to come out and simply win, win, win — and then win again — en route to a National League Cy Young Award. I just assumed it was a given that he would, y’know, never struggle. Ever.
And, to be quite frank, he really hasn’t struggled yet, lofty expectations be damned. He has just been, well, human. Just like the Justin Verlanders and the Felix Hernandezes and the Matt Cains. The fact of the matter is that every pitcher has some less than stellar outings. It’s how you respond to them that matters.
I’d be willing to bet that Medlen will respond in grand style.