Atlanta Braves starter Kris Medlen has struggled lately and he’ll have to turn it around if he wants to stay in the Braves’ starting rotation. Medlen starts Tuesday night against the New York Mets and he needs to make it a good one.
Medlen has a 1-2 record in July, with a 7.63 ERA. He’s given up 26 hits in only 15.1 innings and walked 6, while striking out 10. What is particularly alarming is that batters are hitting a Ty Cobb-like .382 against Medlen his past three starts.
Now is not the time for Kris Medlen to be slumping. Brandon Beachy will be returning from his minor league rehab starts soon and a stumbling Medlen will make it easy for the Braves to slide him out of the rotation and slide Beachy in.
Not only will Medlen have competition from Beachy, Alex Wood, the 23-year old lefty out of UGA, has pitched great all season. First at Double-A Mississippi as a starter, then in the Atlanta Braves bullpen and last Thursday at Triple-A Gwinnett, as a starter. Wood will start this Thursday’s game against the Mets in place of Paul Maholm, who went on the disabled list with a wrist problem.
This will be Wood’s second start this season. He lasted only three innings in his first start, giving up one run. But he is more prepared for this one since he stretched out five innings last Thursday at Gwinnett.
Maholm will miss three starts so we’ll see how the Braves wish to cover those. Perhaps they will have Wood cover the first one and then send him back to Gwinnett and have Beachy assume Maholm’s starting slot. But if Wood pitches great Thursday, what is the point of sending him back to Gwinnett? I think the Braves would keep rolling him out there until or unless he shows that he needs more minor league starts.
The Braves currently have only one lefty in the bullpen (Availan) and I don’t see that being a permanent situation. There is a high probability they are looking to acquire a lefty before the trade deadline, but if they don’t, then the Braves could want to shift Wood back to the bullpen. But that would be dependent on Medlen doing the job as a starter.
The Braves starting rotation is getting a little crowded and that is a good thing. The depth is needed to cover injuries and you know what? A little good old-fashioned competition is good to keep everyone on their toes and paying attention. But they need Medlen to get things together and start pitching well again, or Medlen could end up back in the bullpen.