Medlen a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners
By Jesse Pantuosco, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I know where I'll be on Wednesday night.
I'll be in front of my TV watching the Atlanta Braves take on the Miami Marlins.
The playoff implications aren't what interest me about this matchup.
That's because there aren't any. The Braves are well ahead in the Wild Card and the best finish Miami could hope for this season is fourth in the NL East.
The Chipper Jones farewell tour is interesting and it's always a treat to see Josh Johnson throw for the Marlins. But that's not why I'll be tuning in either.
Kris Medlen is the guy I want to see.
The young phenom is already drawing comparisons to Atlanta great Greg Maddux but I'm not sure "Mad Dog" ever had a run quite like this.
Over his last nine starts, Medlen is 7-0 with a 0.86 ERA. In that span, he's generated 66 whiffs to a mere eight walks, a strikeout to walk ratio of 8.25 to 1. Opponents have hit .202 against Medlen during this stretch.
Good luck, Marlins.
Usually, great pitching doesn't just fall into your lap. The Cincinnati Reds traveled to Cuba to secure their All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman. The Texas Rangers searched long and hard overseas before settling on Japanese righthander Yu Darivsh.
Luckily for the Braves, they didn't need to look far to find their ace. He was sitting in their bullpen the whole time.
Medlen started the year in the pen and probably would have stayed there if not for Jair Jurrjens. Despite being named an All-Star in 2011, Jurrjens (3-4, 6.89 ERA) struggled mightily as the team's No. 5 starter, eventually relinquishing that role to Medlen in late July.
The fill was only meant to be temporary but nine dazzling performances later, I think it's safe to say Jurrjens won't be getting his job back.
Though it didn't result in a win (the Braves won in the bottom of the ninth when Medlen was already out of the game), Medlen's last start versus Washington may have been his finest outing yet.
The talented righthander induced a career-high 13 strikeouts in seven innings, walking just one and allowing five hits. A Bryce Harper solo-bomb to lead off the sixth spoiled an otherwise flawless effort for the 26-year-old.
Medlen makes up for what he lacks in size (he's listed at 5-foot-10) and velocity (his fastball tops out at about 91 mph) by delivering his pitches with pin-point accuracy. Nearly 69 percent of Medlen's pitches went for strikes last Friday with eight of them resulting in called strike threes, the most thrown by any pitcher in the majors this season.
The four-year veteran had his full arsenal on display in the first inning, striking out the side with three different pitches. First, he got Jayson Werth to chase a 91-mph fastball low and away. Next, he froze Ryan Zimmerman (who had his 16-game hitting streak snapped because of Medlen) on a hard curveball before finishing the frame with a devastating changeup to first baseman Adam LaRoche.
Pretty good for a player who was unowned in virtually every fantasy league less than two months ago.
Since August, Medlen has been an angel sent from fantasy heaven. He has allowed just six runs in 62 2/3 innings as a starter, lowering his season ERA from 2.48 to 1.62. Only three players have homered against him (all solo shots) and Medlen has not allowed an earned run in four out of his last six appearances.
DJ Khaled must have had Medlen in mind when he wrote the song "All I Do is Win." The last time Medlen lost as a starter was May 26, 2009 against San Francisco, a span of 25 starts. Perhaps more astonishing is the fact that Atlanta has won each of Medlen's past 20 starts. That streak also dates back to 2009.
Medlen went on a year-long hiatus between 2010 and 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and just now it appears he has recovered enough to finally reach his full potential as a major league starting pitcher. Who knows how long Medlen's unbeaten streak will remain in tact but I think we can all agree that he'll be one of the first pitchers taken in next season's fantasy draft.
09/19 18:13:11 ET