Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kris Medlen: use him or send him down

I'm big on Kris Medlen. Probably moreso than most. He does have a smallish frame and probably projects longterm as a high-leverage reliever rather than a front-end starter. But still, the man has some talent, as evidenced by the success he had prior to his call-up (37 2/3 IP, 44K, 10BB, 20 H, 1.19 ERA at AAA).

But you wouldn't know Medlen was one of the Braves' top prospects by the way Bobby Cox has been using him over the past couple of months. Since moving to the bullpen following a start on May 31st in which he dominated the Diamondbacks (6 IP, 9K, 1BB,4H, 1ER), Medlen has only made ten appearances out of the Braves' bullpen.

Medlen's performance in the big leagues has been hit or miss so far. He's dominant on some nights but can't find the plate on others. But there's good news! We are able to isolate his bad performances from his good performances by analyzing the duration of his appearances.

In games in which he has pitched more than two innings, Medlen has 27K/19BB with 20 ER in just 26 innings. When Medlen has pitched 2 innings or less, he's put up 10 K against 1 BB in 8 IP. True, this is a very small sample. But through four MLB starts, Medlen has proven he isn't ready to be a full-time SP (although he might already be a more interesting option than Kenshin Kawakami), and since the evidence so far has indicated that he might be an effective one or two inning relief pitcher, that option ought to be worth exploring.

If not, send him back down to AAA Gwinnett, and keep stretching him out as a starter.

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