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Quietly, Kris Medlen Keeps On Rolling

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Meds has been overlooked for most of 2013, but his numbers are solid across the board, especially the past couple months.

Mike Zarrilli

No one really knew what 2013 would hold for Kris Medlen.

Medlen was the best pitcher on the planet during the second half of 2012. He obviously wasn't going to repeat those numbers this year, and the Braves wouldn't go on another stretch of 20+ games without losing one of his starts, but there was still reason to believe Meds could be a front-end starter moving forward.

Would he be? That was one of the big questions surrounding the start of spring training.

Medlen saw his strikeout rate dip (17.6% compared to 20.8% for his career) and his walk rate increase (5.5% to 6.4%) in the first half of the season, leading to a somewhat pedestrian 3.64 ERA and 4.01 xFIP. Those are hardly numbers to scoff at, though they're more of a poor man's No. 3 or No. 4 starter than that of your prototypical "ace."

The results have been much better since the All-Star Game.

Over the course of 51 1/3 innings, Medlen's strikeout rate has rocketed up to 22.4 percent while hardly walking anyone.

All of this has led to a 3.16 ERA and 2.68 xFIP in the second half, making Medlen arguably the best starting pitcher for the Braves since mid-July.

Put it all together and you've got a guy with a 3.48 ERA, 3.59 xFIP and a 3.41 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the season, making him a low-end No. 2 or a really good No. 3.

It's been easy to overlook what Medlen's done; with Mike Minor emerging as a reliable workhorse atop the rotation, Brandon Beachy coming back from arm surgery and Alex Wood and Julio Teheran dominating as rookies, Kris has been placed on the back burner more times than not.

For a guy who some thought was destined to be a reliever coming up through the organization, the Braves will surely take it.