It has been almost two full years since Kris Medlen took the mound as a starting pitcher in the major leagues. In doing so last night for the Kansas City Royals, Medlen took another step forward in his progress from his second Tommy John surgery, as he looks to be the first pitcher since Chris Capuano to make more than ten starts following a second procedure on the same elbow.
As Medlen had yet to pitch more than 3.2 innings in any outing, or to pitch more than 52 pitches this season, not much was expected. With Dave Eiland saying that it would likely take Medlen two or three starts to get up to 90 to 100 pitches, it was expected that Medlen’s first start was going to be a short outing.
That certainly appeared to be the case in the first inning. He gave up a long double to Manny Machado to start the game, and then, after an out, gave up a two run blast to Adam Jones. It certainly was not the type of start to the game that Medlen wanted, nor did this appear to be a harbinger of positivity for his first outing.
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Instead, after that home run, Kris Medlen began to look like the top of the rotation starter he was for the Braves prior to his second surgery. The newest member of the Kansas City Royals rotation struck out the next two batters he faced, then gave up only three more hits and one more run over his next five innings. In the six innings Medlen pitched last night, he struck out six batters without issuing a walk, throwing only 69 pitches.
For an outing that had minimal expectations, Medlen more than delivered. He continued his stellar work for the Royals, and after settling in during the first inning, looked like the pitcher that Kansas City had come to expect. Medlen was spotting his fastball effectively while his curve looked as sharp as ever.
While it is only one start, Medlen may have performed better than anyone, including the Royals, expected. As he builds his way back up to an increased pitch count, getting to that 100 pitch plateau, Medlen could perform even better. As positive as this outing was, just imagine when he is able to pitch deeper into games in the next couple of weeks.
The Kansas City Royals, even after their acquisitions at the trade deadline, still had questions in their starting rotation. With the way Kris Medlen looked last night, those questions may be answered and the rotation could once again be a strength for the team as the Royals head to the postseason.