Kris Medlen was an afterthought. A bullpen arm or an emergency starter. A Tommy John casualty who, while likely figuring to be part of the back end of the Braves rotation one day, wasn’t supposed to be the ace. Certainly not in the 2012 pennant drive. But here we are.
Medlen extended his scoreless innings streak to 28 and a third innings last night, blanking the Padres for eight efficient innings. It was the 17th straight Medlen start the Braves have won, stretching back to 2010. That’s a bit of a gimmick stat given the time frame, but that’s the most consecutive starts a team has won for a dude since the Cardinals won 17 straight for Chris Carpenter back in 2005.
It’s worth noting, of course, that his recent hot stretch has coincided with starts against some less-than-threatening offenses. Since joining the rotation he’s faced the Marlins, the Astros, the Mets and the Padres twice. He did shut the Nationals out for seven innings, and the Padres offense, while not impressive overall, has been scoring a lot of runs of late, so it’s not nothing.
But you can’t pick your opponent, and obviously the important part of this is that the Braves biggest weakness this year — consistency in the rotation — has been squarely addressed by Medlen’s recent tear.
Also important: he works fast and throws strikes and that’s just aesthetically pleasing. Dear God why don’t more pitchers do that?
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.