Kris Medlen hurls shutout in fourth start for Braves

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Kris Medlen was so impressive while filling in for Tommy Hanson that the Braves had already decided to go to a six-man rotation in anticipation of Hanson’s return this week. Tonight he ensured that someone else is going to the pen if they opt to return to five starters next month.

Making his fourth start after 38 relief appearances, Medlen pitched a shutout against the Padres on Thursday. Backed by two homers from Chipper Jones, he allowed five hits, walked none and struck out six in the 104-pitch gem.

Medlen had a 2.48 ERA as a reliever this season, but he’s been even more spectacular as a starter. He’s allowed just three runs in 25 2/3 innings to date, good for a 1.05 ERA. The Braves have won all four of his starts.

How Medlen will hold up as a starter is the big question mark. The Braves knew they were taking a risk when they shifted him from the rotation to the pen in 2010, and he ended up hurting his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery. He was kept in the pen initially this year in part because the Braves were confident about their starters but also because they wanted to save wear and tear on his arm.

Still, there wouldn’t seem to be any going back now. Depending on how Hanson looks in his return and whether Ben Sheets and Paul Maholm can continue their surprising success, it’s possible Medlen will be the Braves’ second or third starter in the postseason, should the team advance.

Reds top prospect Nick Senzel to undergo season-ending surgery

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Reds no. 1 prospect Nick Senzel is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery on Tuesday, the club announced Saturday. Senzel tore a tendon in his right index finger on Friday and is not expected to make a full recovery before the 2018 season comes to a close, though any offseason activity has not yet been ruled out.

Prior to the start of the season, MLB Pipeline ranked the 22-year-old infielder first in the Reds’ system and sixth in the league overall. He made a fine impression in his debut with Triple-A Louisville, too, slashing .310/378/.509 with six home runs and eight stolen bases in 193 plate appearances. A call-up seemed inevitable at some point in 2018, though the Reds will now have to shelve any immediate plans for the third baseman as he works through a lengthy recovery process in order to take the field sometime in 2019.

Impressive numbers notwithstanding, it’s been a rough year for Senzel. He missed nearly a month after another chronic bout of vertigo and logged just 21 games in Louisville before landing on the disabled list again. This appears to be the first significant injury of his professional career so far.