It’s hard to imagine that Kris Medlen, the pitcher who struck out 13 batters in seven innings Friday night against the Nationals, actually complained about his lack of strikeouts earlier this season.
Medlen needed 24 2/3 innings to accumulate his first 13 strikeouts of the season while pitching out of the Braves bullpen.
He was frustrated at the time with a relative inability to put away hitters, saying that his two-seam fastball was running back over the middle of the plate, especially to right-handed hitters. But Medlen said Saturday as a starter he can establish other pitches.
“Out of the bullpen you have to establish whatever works for that day,” Medlen said. “As a starter you have a chance to make more adjustments.”
Medlen said since the All-Star break he’s been throwing a lot of four-seam fastballs. He’s used his bullpen time between starts to throw two or three two-seamers and the rest four-seamers.
“It gives guys a different look,” said Medlen who got Roger Bernadina to swing under it in the second inning Friday. “I’ve been using it to both sides. It’s definitely helped me out….The four-seamer has really helped me to stay on my plane and keep my arm up because you’ve got to stay behind it.”
Medlen, who struck out 12 two starts earlier against the Rockies, became the first Braves pitcher since 1900 with two games of 12 or more strikeouts in the same month, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Now Medlen is in a friendly rivalry with closer Craig Kimbrel to see who can finish the season with more strikeouts. Medlen moved ahead of Kimbrel with 102 on the season Friday to Kimbrel’s 101 after Kimbrel struck out the side on Friday night on 10 pitches.
“I heard he was a little jealous in the bullpen room,” Medlen said.
That came from Eric O’Flaherty, who had kidded Kimbrel during Friday’s game that he must be jealous after Kimbrel pointed out how many strikeouts Medlen was piling up.
“He pitched an amazing game; it was a lot of fun to watch,” said Kimbrel, who couldn’t resist a little jab, though. “He had to become a starter to start doing that.”