Braves option Medlen to minors to prepare for starter’s role

After eight straight losses, the Braves made a move they think can cure some of the starting pitching ills that have plagued them lately, by sending Kris Medlen to the minors to stretch out for a move into a starter’s role.

The Braves announced Tuesday that they had optioned Medlen to Triple-A Gwinnett and scheduled him for three starts there to build up his arm strength. They recalled outfielder Jose Constanza to fill in on the roster for at least for a few days.

The weak links in the Braves rotation have been Mike Minor and Randall Delgado, who had combined to go 2-8 with a 6.18 ERA over 16 starts entering Delgado’s start Tuesday night against the Cardinals.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said no decision will be made about whose spot in the rotation Medlen could fill because a lot can happen in the next 15 days or so, and it depends on how all those concerned are pitching.

“Who knows?” Gonzalez said. “…That at least adds some depth to us as a starting rotation.”

For Medlen this is a chance to return to a role where he’s flourished. The Braves went 13-1 in Medlen’s 14 starts during the 2010 season, while he went 5-0 with a 3.86 ERA.

“It’s hard to be positive about it when you get sent down,” said Medlen, who’ll report to Gwinnett on Wednesday. “But I know the intentions of it, and overall I’m really excited about the opportunity. I just hope as a group we start playing better and win games.”

Unlike that 2010 season when Medlen built up at the major league level, this time the Braves want him to stretch out in a risk-free environment. He could make his first start on Friday or Saturday, depending on where he falls into the rotation. Jair Jurrjens is scheduled to start Friday for Gwinnett, and the Braves don’t want to disrupt the progress he’s making in his stint there.

Medlen threw 42 pitches in 2 2/3 innings of relief on Monday. He’ll throw 55-60 pitches in his first start and build up to about 100.

“When we did that in 2010, I was going three innings and then next game four innings, and you can’t do that to the bullpen and our team,” Medlen said. “I totally understand.”

The Braves told Medlen in spring training he might move into rotation at some point during the season, but they but saw him as a valuable piece to the bullpen so they wouldn’t overwork Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel. But now Gonzalez said they can cover with Cristhian Martinez and Livan Hernandez in long relief.

In the short-term, Gonzalez said he could use one of his starters to cover an extra inning or two in relief if need be, on a day that starter was normally scheduled for a bullpen session. Gonzalez said he also has some flexibility with upcoming off days on Thursday and Monday.

Gonzalez said the Braves have been planning to pitch Medlen no more than 150-155 innings this year, his first full season after elbow reconstruction surgery. He’s thrown 28 1/3 innings so they figure he can get through the rest of the season making 21 or 22 starts and still come in under 150.

39 comments Add your comment

JC Boscan III

May 29th, 2012
7:23 pm

We can’t afford inconsistent or poor starting performances, so this is probably a good idea. I always liked Medlen as a starter. He reminded me a bit of Maddux, but with an extra MPH or 2 on his fastball.

Stop the slide!

May 29th, 2012
7:28 pm

why not? All of a sudden our starters aren’t doing it! Give Medlen a chance…shake it up! This has to stop if we want a prayer at at post season run!


May 29th, 2012
7:29 pm

At least someone has listened and trying something.


May 29th, 2012
7:35 pm

Only concern is that when he became a starter he blew his elbow out before the end of the year. I hope he can became a dependable starter but he’s been a reliever for most of his career and has never pitched more than 107 innings in the majors and 120 in AA.
He can’t pitch worse than the 5 starters they got now so it’s worth a shot. I do think he gives the team a better chance to win than Minor or Delgado…or Hanson.

Go Braves!

keeping it real

May 29th, 2012
7:37 pm

What does JJ need to do to get called back up? Pitched brilliantly in his last start. Hit 93 with command. We need him with the Braves and MM going down to work on things.


May 29th, 2012
7:55 pm

keeping it real- He also got lit up the previous 2 starts with 11 & 7 runs earned against him. I think it’s a wait and see approach with him until he gets the consistency back. I hope he gets it together because he is sorely missed in the rotation and hopefully he returns to form and can be a big addition when he gets fully healthy.

Go Braves!


May 29th, 2012
8:05 pm

Chopper Junes

May 29th, 2012
8:10 pm

How’s old Derrick Lowe looking now?


May 29th, 2012
8:32 pm

He is 6-3 with 3.23 era..not bad.


May 29th, 2012
8:33 pm

Melkey Cabrera is leading ML with 61 hits and BA 360…not bad for someone BC didn’t like.


May 29th, 2012
9:22 pm

2012 All Former Braves Team:

Teixeira or LaRoche
Kelly Johnson
Furcal or Andrus
Melky Cabrera
Francoeur or Gregor Blanco
Lowe, Wainwright, Neftali Feliz

Who am I missing?


May 29th, 2012
9:24 pm


May 29th, 2012
9:36 pm

And Infante at 2B, I forgot him.


May 29th, 2012
10:22 pm

I think it’s also time to send Venters down for some work and bring up Flande. Venters is scary every time he comes in. It’s like last year when Fredi would call in the washed up veteran relievers. Durbin makes me nervous too. By the way I hope everyone noticed that Constanza scored the winning run. If he becomes a spark plug like last year they should send Diaz or Heyward down for a while and play the hot hand. It’s too bad that Fredi doesn’t play poker very well, he does have a poker face.


May 29th, 2012
10:24 pm

Memories get fuzzy over time. Couple of you are recalling fondly the days of:
Lowe: couldn’t get past 5 innings w/o getting shelled, and killed off our bullpen.
Escobar: complete arrogant headcase.
Salty: how was he ever gonna see the field?
LaRoche: Attn Deficit Disorder, and undependable
K Johnson: great guy, tried hard, but strike-out artist, and weak defensively
Furcal: chased the money (and the Dodgers VASTLY overpaid)
Andrus: Now him I wish we still had (thanks Scheurholz for the horrible Tex deal)
Betemit: come on…
Melky: fat, fatter, fattest
Shaffer: I think they gave up too quickly
Frenchy: run out of town, and rightfully so….needed a change of scenary
Feliz: another one we should still have (again….thx John S)
Infante: I’ll take Uggla every time

This team is still in transition….show a little patience.

Mark (another one)

May 29th, 2012
10:25 pm

It looks like the Braves draft and develop good players.

Orange Brave f/k/a Billy Jack's BBQ

May 29th, 2012
10:30 pm

I agree with sending Medlin down, probably should have been done about 5 or 6 days ago., BUT at least Fast Fredi is shaking some things up a bit……now about an outfield bat…….and a shortstop that can hit (and field)……….

This team misses Chipper. Teams can play us completely differently when he is not in the lineup. Until Chipper returns to form, everyone must contribute.


May 29th, 2012
10:35 pm

Orange: good points. While Medlin is down, lots of people are thinking the pen has to step up….but I would say its more important for the offense to step it up. Try to keep us out of really tight games, especially where FG has to overmanage the relievers (i.e. lefty/lefty matchups, etc.)

I like Pastornicky a lot, but after a reasonable sample size, his offense is OK (especially considering he’s been hitting in the 8 hole), bit his D is below average. If Simmons is hitting, you might see him after the All Star break.


May 30th, 2012
12:01 am

MikeY – I tell you who you missed and he actually is never mentioned when listing boneheaded trades by the Wrenster/braves.

Tim Collins – 5′7′ lefthander – has a 97mph fastball – 37 k in 24 innings – struck out 329 in 223 innings in the minors – and the braves just didn’t see someone they could market like that. He has about a 2.60 and has allowed runs in only 2 of his 23 appearances for KC this year.

So the braves desperately needed Ankiel so they bagged up Collins with Gregor Blanco(about .280 for SF) who was sparking the braves offense at the time and shipped them off – the Braves also got Farnsworth who had good year so the Braves didn’t resign him and he went on to a stellar year at TB where they know how to get the most out of players.

Wish we had Farnsworth last year – we’d of made the playoffs with ease.

The Collins trade is second to only the Tx trade for stupidity but people will not see that for a few years…oh and Liberty should be canning Wren – Collins can’t be a free agent till 2017. The Braves are building a stable of good players who will run from the team when they can. After Prado had to listen to Wren offering him up all off season if he stays I’d be very surprised.

Bourn is good player but in the long run I would take Schafer if he could stay healthy which is a question mark since he likes to run into walls and dive into the ground. But I think he is faster and even a better outfielder or will be – then there’s Paul Clemens and the 100 MPH reliever with arm trouble – of course it was a bad trade as we will see clearly when Bourn ends up elsewhere which is what, like 100% certain?

Collins was a huge error. As big as it gets.

[...] fairly large decision was made by the Braves today, who optioned Kris Medlen to Triple-A. The plan is to get Medlen around three starts and lengthen him out to become a starter in Atlanta. [...]

Brave Decisions

May 30th, 2012
12:25 am

You guys are the best, thanks for reading!


May 30th, 2012
6:53 am

Many bloggers have been screaming to put Medlen in the rotation. Finally, the powers that be are willing to try it. (Of course now we hear that that moving Medlen to a starting spot was a possibility all along. Great spin, Franki and Fredi!)
Heyward is still struggling. It’s obvioius he isn’t the hyped hero he was made out to be…more like a .230 guy.
Heaven knows what Jonny’s issues are. It appears to be all command. When Jonny lets it go, he has no clue where it is heading…into a batter’s body, into the backstop, or right down the middle.
Hinske is so bad at the plate lately. What is he? One for his last 30 something?


May 30th, 2012
8:21 am

Finally Frank and Fredi see the light.


May 30th, 2012
8:37 am

The sad thing about Hinske is that he was rolling in early May had a couple games in a row with big hits then got sat down. Should have kept him in while he was feeling it.


May 30th, 2012
9:19 am

Medlen blew out arm last time this happend two years ago. This is not the right call. Hes a setup man. Venters has lost it. Medlen needs to be used in the pen as a 7th or 8th inning man.

Need to replace Minor for sure, no doubt. But who is going to bridge the gap to kimbrel?

I say try for Oswalt, then either give Teheran a shot or move Livan into 5 spot. At this point anybody is better than Minor BUT cant lose the setup guys


May 30th, 2012
9:22 am

Funny thing about Atlanta…it seems that everyone we get rid of has a better future with other teams.

Gives new meaning to the moniker of Loserville.

Larry in SC

May 30th, 2012
11:12 am

Hi Carroll, When a player gets sent down to the minors, do they not get paid from a different pay scale? What does it do to a player that gets sent down, such as the case with Medlin, to get stretched out?


May 30th, 2012
12:13 pm

I’ve been saying this for a long time now. The problem with the Braves pitching is the pitching coach…Roger McDowell. The level of pitching has not been the same since he came aboard. It baffles the mind that you have the best pitching coach in Braves history working on radio in Atlanta, practically begging to be a pitching coach again and they still continue to employ McDowell. I thought for sure that whole flap in San Francisco where McDowell embarrassed the Braves was the perfect opportunity to make a change to bring back Leo Mazzone.

Guaranteed, this pitching would do a 180 if they’d just have the sack to make the move. As quick as Frank Wren has been to fire Larry Parrish, demote Jair Jurrjens, demote Jeff Francoeur, release Tom Glavine…you’d think this would be the biggest no brainer.


May 30th, 2012
1:39 pm

Glad to see the Braves do something. Constanza brings energy and speed and his threat to run basically got him around to score the ultimate winning run last night. Good move, though why him and not Durango who has 22 SB’s in Gwinnett? The problem at SS is solvable by bringing up Simmons and releasing Wilson. Wilson’s fielding prowess is offset by Simmons’ and I doubt Simmons would bring anything less to the offense. Also, how about Mejia to replace Hinkse, a right-handed power bat (36 RBI at last check) and Hinkse brings little or nothing to the table. Make the team younger, add enthusiasm, and give the younger players a chance without hurting the team or adding payroll.


May 30th, 2012
1:39 pm

Hey Jethro, Oswalt signed with Texas.


May 30th, 2012
3:28 pm

How about we send Fredi and Frank down and bring Bobby and John back for a couple of years……


May 30th, 2012
4:15 pm


May 30th, 2012
1:39 pm
Hey Jethro, Oswalt signed with Texas.

Really? That sucks!!!!


May 30th, 2012
4:17 pm

The deal is worth $4 million for this season if Oswalt joins the Rangers by July 1. He is expected to make the first of several starts at Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday.

And atlanta couldnt have offered this? Whats wrong with them? This is a freakn steal!!!!


May 30th, 2012
4:43 pm


willie g hates the barves

May 30th, 2012
5:09 pm

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willie g hates the barves

May 30th, 2012
5:10 pm

this team will be out of race by july 3rd , guaranteed

David O'Brien

May 30th, 2012
5:28 pm

Klesko and son on field during BP.


May 30th, 2012
6:12 pm

Of course, you realize with Medlin in the minors for 3 stretch-out starts, we lose him completley at the MLB level for about 3 weeks.
Would rather have seen Minor sent down, promote Jurrgens or Tehran (prefer Jurrgens). Leave Delgado alone, he’s adequate as a 5th starter. He’ll gradually get better. Don’t yo-yo him.
Bad move.

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September 23rd, 2013
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