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Kris Medlen shines again in third time through rotation

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Braves right-hander Kris Medlen spent the first four months of the 2012 regular season in a relief role.

It will be a shame if he’s ever asked to go back.

The 26-year-old from Santa Ana, California made his third start of the season on Saturday night against the Mets and was brilliant yet again, allowing just a single run in 6 1/3 innings while striking out seven New York batters. He yielded one run in five-plus innings versus the Astros last Sunday and one run in five innings against the Marlins the week before that.

Fleshed out, Medlen has a 1.62 ERA, a 16/4 K/BB ratio and a .583 opponents’ OPS in three turns through the Atlanta rotation. The Braves are 3-0 in his starts.

Tommy Hanson is just about ready to return from a back injury and a rotation spot will have to be cleared for his arrival. Medlen might be the easiest choice for demotion because of his past experience as a reliever and his willingness to handle any gig, but the Braves would do well to let the good times roll.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.