The Atlanta Braves beat writer for MLB.com, Mark Bowman, mentioned in his blog earlier today that “there is reason to believe” the Braves could remove current starter Kris Medlen from the rotation in order to make room for prospect Alex Wood in the rotation. Medlen would go back to the bullpen, where he pitched at the beginning of the 2012 season.
The mention of this possibility seemingly comes out of left field due to the fact the Braves seem to be in a good spot with an above-average starting rotation, with Wood returning to the minors to progress as a starter and Brandon Beachy set to return from the disabled list to provide starting depth.
While Medlen hasn’t been lights-out like he was to finish 2012, it would still be a mistake to switch him back to the bullpen. Medlen has been the Braves’ third-best starter in the first half of the 2013 season, posting a 6-9 record and 3.64 ERA. He has a better ERA, more strikeouts (86) and a better K/9 ratio (6.81) than both Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson.
If the Braves truly feel that Wood is ready for a role as a starter, they should look to trade Maholm, who is in the last year of his contract.
They could use him in a deal to add a left-handed reliever in the bullpen and let Wood fill in as a starter until Beachy is ready to go. I’m not sure if that’s in the team’s best interests either, but it’s a better option than promoting Wood to a starter and demoting Medlen to the bullpen — a bullpen that isn’t exactly struggling currently as they lead the majors with a 2.62 ERA.
Medlen has been far from dominant in 2013, but he has been consistent and consistently better than Hudson and Maholm. It was right around this time last season that Medlen entered the rotation and began his improbable winning streak. I’m not suggesting he can pull off the feat a second time in 2013, but he’s at least given us evidence that he’s capable of putting together an impressive second half.
Why would the Braves want to sacrifice a pretty good situation with their rotation for a seemingly low-reward move?
Wood did a nice job out of the bullpen during his time in Atlanta, but he wasn’t lights-out and force the Braves to make room in the rotation for him. He’s a prospect with a bright future, but there’s no need to rush him into a spot as the current team stands.
Consider me a skeptic on this possible shift in the starting rotation.