Medlen will have a maximum of 30 days in the minors before the Kansas City Royals will have to make a roster decision. Right now, KC Royals fans have to hope Medlen can shore up the big club’s ailing rotation, which has Danny Duffy, Jason Vargas, and Yordano Ventura all on the disabled list.
The temptation to insert Kris Medlen into the Kansas City Royals rotation immediately after finishing his rehab assignment could prove overwhelming to general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost if the team continues to have health problems with their starting pitchers. Yet, the KC Royals would be wise to limit Medlen’s early appearances to the bullpen as I wrote in early May.
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As a survivor of two Tommy John surgeries, expecting Medlen to become a full-time starter could be asking too much. Chris Capuano is the only pitcher in major-league history to make more than 15 starts after his second ulnar collateral ligament repair. Capuano has started 111 games (and counting) after his second Tommy John surgery. Every other pitcher who attempted the feat only managed to last a handful of games.
Even Capuano is no great success story.
In 2006, the then 27-year-old Chris Capuano earned his only All-Star appearance with a 11-12, 4.03 ERA season for Milwaukee in 2006. He recorded a career high adjusted ERA (ERA+) of 113, which was 13% better than a league-average pitcher.
He suffered his first UCL injury after a terrible 5-12, 5.10 ERA season in 2007. Campuano then missed two full years, and then tore his UCL a second time in 2010.
Since his return from a second Tommy John surgery, Capuano only has exceeded a league average ERA+ in 2012 for the Los Angeles Dodgers (ERA+ of 102). In his four other seasons since his second Tommy John surgery, Capuano has been a below league average pitcher. Capuano was demoted to AAA by the Yankees June 1, after making four lackluster starts this season (0-4, 5.14 ERA).
That’s not very impressive.
As opposed to the bleak track record of starters after their second Tommy John surgery, multiple relief pitchers have gone on to pitch effective innings after their second UCL repair. That list includes Jason Isringhausen who survived THREE Tommy John surgeries, and former KC Royals closer Joakim Soria—who has earned the closer role in Detroit with 16 saves and an 2.45 ERA this season.
Even with this history, general manager Dayton Moore could make the decision to rely on Medlen to join the rotation if the Kansas City Royals starters continue to suffer health problems as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. This year shapes up as a seller’s market, due to the high number of teams still in contention in both leagues.
Moore could very well decide to go with Medlen rather than emptying the KC Royals prospect pipeline to add a starter on the trade market.