Are the Atlanta Braves Making a Mistake Using Kris Medlen in the Bullpen?
Just a few weeks ago, that appeared to be the case when the Braves sent Medlen to triple-A Gwinnett to stretch out his arm.
However, a combination of Minor and Delgado settling into the rotation nicely, along with a struggling bullpen has forced the Braves to put him back into the bullpen.
The Braves believe they are making the right move at the time, but Medlen needs to find a spot in the starting rotation.
Medlen's arsenal of pitches fits as a starter. His fastball is consistently around 90 miles per hour, and he also has a very good changeup. He mixes in a plus curveball as well as a slider to give him four pitches to work with.
In 2010, Medlen was a solid starter as he posted a 6-2 record and a 3.68 ERA in just over 100 innings.
He has seemingly lost his spot in the rotation this year because he missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
It's no secret that the Braves have an abundance of young pitching talent, and there are only five spots in the rotation.
But Medlen is one of those talented arms and belongs in the rotation.
Unfortunately for manager Fredi Gonzalez, the bullpen that was so good in 2011 has not performed to that level in 2012.
Should Kris Medlen be in the bullpen?
Jonny Venters has been very inconsistent. Eric O'Flaherty got off to a rocky start, settled down but now has some injury issues. The season-ending injury to Arodys Vizcaino as well as Peter Moylan's injury have left the Braves with a thin bullpen.
However, O'Flaherty's injury is not serious, and he appears to be headed back to his 2011 form. Moylan is due back sometime in July and will provide a boost. The wild card is Venters, but Venters' stuff is too dominant to not eventually figure it out.
Add that to the recent success of Chad Durbin and the Braves should be able to steady the bullpen without Medlen.
Now look at it from the rotation's perspective.
The recent news involving Brandon Beachy is not good for Braves fans. It appears he's going to need Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the season.
The Braves have called up Jair Jurrjens to temporarily fill his spot. Jurrjens was abysmal this season in Atlanta and didn't exactly light it up after getting demoted to Gwinnett. There he was 3-4 with an ERA over five.
Julio Teheran's ceiling and upside is enormous but he needs to improve his command to firmly establish himself in the rotation.
Randall Delgado has turned a corner and is figuring out what it takes to be a pitcher at the major league level. Mike Minor has been better of late but needs to show over time that he can get the job done on a consistent basis.
Medlen has shown in his young career as a starter that he's an effective pitcher. He doesn't light it up with overwhelming stuff, but he gives the team a chance to win every time he takes the mound.
That's all you can ask for out of a starter as a manager.
Medlen is a starting pitcher. That's where his value is highest and where he needs to end up to help the Braves out the most in the long run.
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