He’s a constant blur of motion and energy, which he has harnessed to become the best starter in the majors right now.
Atlanta’s boyish right-hander remained hotter than a Miami summer, adding to his unbeaten streak and growing legend Wednesday night.
Whatever’s possessed him, it was on display again.
Medlen dominated the Marlins, holding them to four hits in eight innings in a 3-0 victory as the Braves pushed their winning streak to 21 straight in games that he’s started.
There are ton of incredible numbers swirling around Medlen’s streak and late-summer success, but this might be the most impressive:
It’s the first time a team has won 21 straight starts by a pitcher since the Yankees won 22 consecutive of Whitey Ford’s starts in 1950 and 1953, a stretch that was interrupted by military service.
“It’s awesome. My wife and a couple of people have told me who I’m being talked about with,” Medlen said. “Whitey Ford. Pssst. Come on. Don’t even say it. It just kind of happened that way. (My teammates) go to battle for me. I go to battle for them. It’s worked out. I haven’t gotten ahead of myself and I’m just really trying to take it a game at a time.”
There’s been nothing cliché about Medlen since he joined the Braves’ rotation on July 31.
He’s 8-0 with a 0.76 ERA and has 72 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings in 10 starts.
Medlen was the NL Pitcher of the Month in August (4-0, 0.50 ERA) and is 3-0 with a 0.90 in four starts this month. He’s walked nine batters as a starter and has propelled the Braves’ drive for the top wild-card spot.
“He pitches like he’s in the backyard. He pitches like he’s in high school,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He has fun. He’s always smiling. There’s intensity there. There’s focus in there, but he doesn’t get spooked and doesn’t get caught in the moment. He knows what he wants to do and goes out and does it. It’s fun, and refreshing to see a young pitcher do that.”
No other Braves starter can come close to matching Medlen’s numbers, so it appears he would be Gonzalez’s choice to start the wild-card game.
But as dominant as he was against the Marlins, Medlen wasn’t close to the form he has repeatedly shown the past two months.
“To be honest with you, he didn’t even have his good stuff tonight,” said Chipper Jones, whose third-inning single gave him 2,721 career hits, tying him with Lou Gehrig at 58th on the all-time hits list. “He wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen him in the recent past, but he was able to go out and shut out a pretty good major league ballclub through eight innings.”
Jones later tweeted: “Med is a beast ladies and gentlemen!”
Medlen allowed two hits in the first, committed a throwing error in the fifth and needed strong defensive plays from shortstop Martin Prado and center fielder Michael Bourn to help him stay on his roll.
The Braves scored single runs in each of the first three innings.
That was plenty for Medlen and Craig Kimbrel, who pitched the ninth for his 38th save.
“I just try to go out there and win every time,” Medlen said. “That’s the goal. It’s Groundhog Day. It’s a different lineup and you attack guys and you see what happens.”
And if Medlen is pitching, it ends with a Braves win.