Ever heard of a pitcher named Kris Medlen?

By now, you should have at least come across the name. The Washington Nationals were the most recent victims of Medlen’s dominance, as the unknown starter fanned 13 Nats hitters.

The Atlanta Braves loss of ace Brandon Beachy was a void that supposedly couldn’t be filled. Medlen has seemingly done the impossible since being thrown into the starting rotation.

But, with success comes higher expectations. And yes, going 7-0 with a 0.86 ERA is certainly a successful stint. Meaning, Medlen is the Braves X-factor for late season success, and barring a collapse, aka 2011, he is their X-Factor for a successful postseason run.


The simple explanation is the fact that Medlen rounds out the Braves rotation. Not only does he round out their rotation, but he heads a stellar rotation now that lefty Mike Minor has jumped aboard the success train.

Add the always consistent Tim Hudson into the mix, and you end up with the makings of a very dangerous starting rotation, specifically in the NLDS where only a three-man rotation is generally used. Let’s just say that there are few contenders that could match those three pitcher by pitcher.

Medlen has been a savior. Tommy Hanson and his 3.7 walks per nine innings rate has struggled to put a consistent foot forward. Jair Jurrjens fits the same bill, as well as the young Randell Delgado. The thing is, they all have potential to be good.

Really good for that matter. But none of the three have been consistent. With that being said, Medlen’s consistency couldn’t have come at a better time. Rather than having a wobbly third starter in a five game series, the Braves have a sturdy one in Medlen.

However, there’s a slim chance that Medlen will keep pushing forward at his current remarkable pace. It’s nearly impossible. Basically, a slight regression could be on the horizon. But this inevitable regression might be marginal given his 3.00 career ERA as a starter.

Yes, he has only started 27 games in his still young career, but it’s something to look at when looking at the entire landscape of the situation.

The Braves simply cannot afford to have Medlen collapse. They already have enough inconsistency problems. The one piece that hasn’t been mentioned on the inconsistent area of the spectrum, is none other than Mike Minor. Yes, he has been remarkably good lately.

Actually, more than lately. Since July 5th, he has posted a 2.32 ERA. In spite of his recent hot streak, his inconsistency can’t be forgotten. Remember, this is a guy who was and still is known for having a wobbly track record.

His walk per nine innings rate is still inflated at three per nine. And his control can be questionable at times. So while Minor is useful to have, Medlen still remains the go-to guy.

Simply, Medlen can’t fall into a lengthy slump. Granted, his success basically came out of left field, but like aforementioned, he has now proven that he can do the job, which means he’s now relied on to do that job, consistently.

If Medlen continues his surge, Minor does the same, while Hudson is himself, then the Braves are perennial World Series contenders.

Their lethal bullpen can’t get mixed up in all of this attention either. Obviously Craig Kimbrel receives most of the attention, but Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty deserve just as much credit as the closer.

No matter how the rest of Medlen’s season shapes it, the run that he has put together over the past month will certainly be one of the feel-good stories of the year.

Considering that 2012 is Chipper Jones last season, perhaps Medlen has enough magic left in his arm to help Chipper get one more ring.

This article was originally published at MLB Reports.  

MLB Reports is a partner of FootBasket. You can see more about them at their website. Follow them on Twitter @MLBReports


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