The Washington Nationals are taking plenty of heat for their decision to shut down young pitcher Stephen Strasburg with two weeks left in the regular season, and if things pan out for the Atlanta Braves and Kris Medlen there could be even more criticism coming their way.
Like Strasburg, Medlen, the Braves' 26-year-old right-hander, is pitching in his first full season following "Tommy John" elbow surgery. Medlen had pitched, at most, 120 1/3 innings in 2008 in Double-A.
Strasburg pitched his career-high of 128 innings in 2009, with 109 innings at San Diego State and 19 innings in the Arizona Fall League.
So the Braves, like the Nationals with Strasburg, wanted Medlen throwing no more than 160-170 innings in 2012. It is one of the reasons Medlen started the season in the Braves' bullpen. Strasburg started in the rotation.
Six months later, on the same week the Nationals announced they planned to shut Strasburg down for the season after his start on Wednesday, Medlen was named National League pitcher of the month.
At 6-0 with a 0.54 ERA in seven starts since moving into the Braves rotation, Medlen actually looks like he could be their ace come next month if they claim a wild-card spot.
Medlen was at 104 innings entering his start last night against the New York Mets.
The Nationals might have to worry if they have to face the Braves - and Medlen - come next month.
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