Ramblings about the Braves by True Braves Fans
Kris Medlen was forced to leave tonight’s game due to “an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow,” according to the Braves. He’ll undergo and MRI on Thursday. If you aren’t sure what the UCL is, it might help to know that the medical term for Tommy John Surgery is ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction.
Depending on the severity of the issue, the Braves could face losing him for a few starts, the rest of the season, or even the rest of next season. I guess its possible that he could end up not missing any time at all, but everything I’ve read seems to indicate that he’ll definitely be making a trip to the DL, regardless of the outcome of the MRI.
Speculation has already begun on what the Braves will do in response. Obviously if its a situation where he won’t miss a start, nothing will happen. If he does miss any time, there is a lot of debate on whether the Braves will call up Mike Minor (henceforth known as MM), or if they will move KK back into the rotation.
If we do find out that we are going to be without Medlen for at least the rest of the season, I think we have to call up MM. To begin with, KK has hardly pitched since being moved to the bullpen. Chances that he’s even up to starting are pretty slim. That being said, we are in a tight pennant race, and now is not the time for MM to mature in the majors. KK has to begin getting ready because if MM shows any signs of not being able to handle the pressures of a pennant race, or merely falters for any other reasons, KK will need to step in. If we had a runaway lead or if we were out of the race, then you could afford to let MM go through some bad starts in order to further refine him. We don’t have that luxury now.
What I’m wondering is what we do if Medlen ends up needing to just miss one or two starts? Would we call up MM just to make a few spot starts and send him back down? Are there other options in on the farm that could be better utilized in such a situation? Do we have anyone in the bullpen that could be moved into such a role? I know that Venters started most of his career in the minors, but is he prepared to make a few spot starts? Even if he is, can we afford to lose him out of the pen? Could JJ go on short rest if needed? Don’t forget that he didn’t pitch for two months or so while on the DL and is much more rested than other starters.
My feeling is that in such a situation we wouldn’t call up MM. I don’t think he’s coming up this year unless its with plans for him to stay up here as part of the rotation. Instead I think we’d call up another starter from AAA or AA with the intention of him making a single start and getting sent back down.