Kris Medlen was named National League pitcher of the month for August on Tuesday, and why wouldn’t he be?
The budding ace of the Braves staff went 4-0 in five starts last month, while allowing only two earned runs in 35 2/3 innings. He struck out 35 while walking only four, and that was before he pitched a complete game with a career-high 12 strikeouts to beat the Rockies 6-1 on Monday.
Medlen began a scoreless streak of 34 2/3 innings on Aug. 11 against the Mets and kept it going until he gave up one unearned run in the seventh inning Monday, giving him the Braves’ longest scoreless streak since Greg Maddux pitched 39 1/3 scoreless innings in 2000.
Medlen’s streak, along with his size and his knack for pounding the strike zone and fielding his position, has brought some comparisons to the four-time Cy Young award winner and 355-game winner, including from Maddux’s former teammate Chipper Jones.
“I understand that he has 700 more wins than me,” said Medlen, 26, who has 16 wins in three-plus seasons as both a starter and reliever. “Obviously stuff-wise we’ve got the two-seamer, the change-up. It’s awesome, but I don’t know if I feel comfortable being in the same sentence with a guy like that. I’ve got a long way to go. It’s awesome. I’ve said that 12 times in this interview, but I can’t explain it. I just feel great. It’s cool to get compared to a guy like that.”
The win Monday was Medlen’s second complete game victory in four starts. He pitched the first complete-game shutout of his career Aug. 16 against the Padres. Medlen is 6-0 with a 0.54 ERA in seven starts since rejoining the Braves rotation on July 31 from the bullpen. Not bad when a pitcher’s ERA matches his jersey number.
“It all came together for the month, as of right now,” Medlen said. “It’s just cool.”
The Braves won all five of Medlen’s starts in August as they have won each of his past 18 starts overall, a franchise record, dating back to 2010 before Medlen’s elbow reconstruction surgery.
Medlen has been the best thing going on the mound this side of Felix Hernandez, and the Mariners ace just claimed AL pitcher of the month after pitching three complete-game shutouts, two of them 1-0, including his perfect game on Aug. 15 against Tampa. Hernandez went 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA in five August starts for Seattle.
Medlen beat out a relative who’s who of National League pitchers for the award including Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo (5-0, 2.02 ERA), the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman (1-0, 0.68 ERA, 11 saves), the Phillies’ Cole Hamels (3-1, 1.86), the Padres’ Clayton Richard (5-1, 2.42 ERA) and the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright (5-1, 2.75).
This is Medlen’s first pitcher of the month award.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling right now and I’ve had a great day,” Medlen told assembled reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
Shortly thereafter, he tweeted about something else he had going for him on Tuesday.
“Wow what an incredible day! So honored to be the NL pitcher of the month! But finding out my unborn child has a wiener was the best part!”
Medlen’s Nicki wife is pregnant with their first child.