As we noted over the weekend, the Braves will have a starting pitcher glut when Brandon Beachy comes back from Tommy John surgery in the next week or so. But as Dave O’Brien reports, the one guy in the rotation with bullpen experience — Kris Medlen — is not at all interested in moving back to the pen:
“I’ll let it be known that I don’t want to go down there (to the bullpen),” Medlen said. “I don’t. At all. But it’s out of my hands. I mean, if it happens, obviously it happens. I’m a team player.”
Well, I suppose a true team player would make that objection a private thing rather than tell it to a reporter, but OK.
I think that, unless the Braves want to ease Beachy into things with some bullpen time — something of which there has been no indication whatsoever — you have to move Medlen to the pen for a bit. For one thing, he was doing it a year ago. For another, it’s worth mentioning that he only pitched 130 or so innings last year and if he keeps on his current pace as a starter he’ll be way over 200. Maybe this would be good for him.
No matter the case, I can’t remember a team who has been reported to have too many viable starting pitchers ever truly suffer for having too many. I can remember a lot of teams described that way who, when it was all said and done, needed every last one of those allegedly surplus arms.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: