While the Braves have yet to decide who will be removed from the rotation to make room for Jair Jurrjens, Kris Medlen shouldn’t be on the chopping block given the way he’s produced.  All you have to do is look at his numbers over his first 22 appearances (nine starts) for proof:

5 Wins
74.1 Innings
3.15 ERA
1.13 WHIP
54 Strikeouts (6.5 K/9)
13 Walks (1.6 BB/9)
.288 BABIP

As a starting pitcher, he’s gone 4-0 with a 3.40 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and a 6.0 K/9.  The real question is, can he maintain this success?

The BABIP is not unrealistic, and the number for the season is actually identical to his number as a starting pitcher.  So, if there is a reason not to believe, this isn’t it.

The strikeouts are a concern, but they are well below his minor league success.  Over his minor league career he posted a K/9 of 10.4, but then again he spent significant time coming out of the bullpen.  Of his 102 games, only 23 were starts. 

It’s much easier to let it loose in a one or two inning appearance, as opposed to when you want to go six or more.  Seeing the strikeouts decline both from the move to the rotation, as well as the move to the major leagues, make this number a lot more believable.  Could he add a few as he becomes more accustomed to the big leagues?  I would think so, but you really never know.

He has always been a great control pitcher, with a minor league career BB/9 of 2.0, so you cannot say that his number this year is unrealistic.  While he may regress here a little bit, he’s not likely to walk the ballpark, either.

To get an idea of his repertoire, here’s what Baseball America, who ranked Medlen has the Braves No. 9 prospect prior to 2009, had to say:

“Medlen features a 92-94 mph fastball and a plus curveball in the upper 90s. He also has a solid changeup and a slider he’ll throw to give hitters another pitch to think about. The additional innings as a starter allowed him to improve his command. ”

While his fastball has not quite been up that high as a starting pitcher (he’s averaging 90.3 mph this season), there’s nothing not to like about what we’ve seen.  He has excellent control, has upside in the strikeout department, and his success is not luck based.  Just how could the Braves remove him from the rotation?

For fantasy owners, as long as he has his spot in the rotation, he is worth owning in all formats.  Keep a close eye on the news, just in case, but for now get him active.

What are your thoughts on Medlen?  Is he worth owning?  Why or why not?

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