December 21, 2012
The Keeper Reaper
Starters for 12/21/12
Let’s focus for a minute. We are talking about 12 starts. At least with breakout stars like Chris Sale and Wade Miley it was a full season of work; both topped 190 innings. Medlen threw 138 in all, just 84 of which came as a starter. Mind you, they were an elite 84 innings, but that doesn’t mean you start relying on him as you would a Jake Peavy or James Shields, let alone a Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw. The equation changes when we get into auction leagues because he is almost assuredly a cheap asset, but for the purposes of our exercise here, we’re talking straight draft where there aren’t differing costs.
Medlen has become something of a party-crasher as the Braves were expecting a rotation of Tim Hudson and blue chip prospects, but Tommy Hanson’s fizzling out and subsequent trade plus Julio Teheran’s slowed progress (though he still very much remains a blue chip prospect) has opened the door for Medlen. Those not terribly familiar with Medlen may think he is a hot prospect himself, but he is actually 27 years old. The future is no doubt appealing for Medlen, though. He missed all of his 2011, but his 2010 was another hybrid season where he threw 84 innings (108 in all) with encouraging results including a 3.86 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 6.6 K/9, and 3.9 K/BB.
This may feel like a no-brainer to some. To you: good. You are the ones who pass the class; the rest of you please see me afterward. One year does not a trend make. Yes, Halladay is 36 years old, which definitely adds some extra risk, but 12 months ago he was still unquestionably a top-three pitcher with Verlander and Kershaw; now he’s being viewed, at least by some, as a washed up hag. His pristine seven-year track record from 2005-2011 during which the only thing that stopped him was a freak injury (caused by a line drive from Kevin Mench and his big dumb head) is enough to rely on and go back to the well in 2013.
And let’s not pretend he completely fell apart in 2012. The walk rate spiked a bit to a rate most would kill for but looked horrific against his career-best 2.1 BB/9, and yet he still maintained a 3.7 K/BB in his 156 innings. He was got hit harder, resulting in his first groundball rate south of 50 percent (45 percent) while his line drive was a career-worst 23 percent. You should only be concerned if you believe this was a loss of skill as opposed to injury-related (or mere bad luck). It was the latter for me, so I’m still on board for 2013, and while he may not be “best pitcher in the game”-level, I expect pretty damn close.