The following news doesn’t come as a surprise, but it’s now official. According to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, Braves right-hander Kris Medlen will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery tomorrow.
This will be the second Tommy John surgery of Medlen’s young career. He previously had the procedure in August of 2010 and made it back to the majors in September of 2011. The Braves were widely praised for how they handled Medlen’s workload in 2012, first using him out of the bullpen before transitioning him to the rotation. After posting a 3.11 ERA over a career-high 197 innings last season, he was being counted on to serve as Atlanta’s ace this year, but now he has another long rehab ahead of him. Getting him back at some point during the first half next year is probably the best-case scenario.
In other injured Braves starting pitcher news, Brandon Beachy is scheduled to travel to Los Angeles tomorrow to get a second opinion on his elbow. He could soon be headed for a second Tommy John surgery of his own.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.