With Brandon Beachy on the shelf for the rest of the season, the Braves need options. They’ve recalled Jair Jurrjens but where do they turn if Jurrjens continues to pitch poorly? They have Kris Medlen in the bullpen and Julio Teheran in the minors but what about Todd Redmond?
Medlen has given some indications that he would be a fine option to take a spot in the rotation. However, there are some red flags as well. Of course he’s not all that far removed from Tommy John surgery and it’s likely a major reason the Braves started him off in the bullpen was to limit his innings. Also, Medlen may not be as dominant as some of his numbers seem on the surface. Medlen just hasn’t shown a remarkable ability to miss bats. He’s only struck out 5 batters per 9 innings pitched. That’s Livan Hernandez territory, although he’s keeping the ball in the park much better than Livan (0.3 HR/9 for Medlen versus 1.5 HR/9 for Livan). Medlen’s control is fine, at 2.2 BB/9 but you would expect a pitcher to post a slightly better strikeout rate coming in to the game in short stints. But maybe he’s pacing himself because he’s used to starting or holding back because of the injury. Whatever the reason, he’s not missing a ton of bats. He would probably be fine as a starter but it’s possible he wouldn’t be as good as people expect.
Julio Teheran showed some flashes of what makes him a great prospect in his one major league start this season. He struck out 5 and only walked one in 4 1/3 innings, giving up no homers but in the 5th inning of that game, he started giving up line-drive singles, an indication that maybe he’s not quite ready. And with 6.9 SO/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9 in 58.1 innings so far in Gwinnett, he’s not exactly dominating Triple-A hitters. He’s only 21, so it’s way too early to write him off but he’s probably not an ideal option this season, unless the Braves fall out of the race. You probably don’t want his on-the-job training to come in meaningful major league games at this point.
The Braves acquired Todd Redmond before the 2008 season, sending Tyler Yates to Pittsburgh for Redmond because Yates was out of options. According to Marc Hulet of Fangraphs, back in 2009, Redmond “has average stuff with an 87-90 mph fastball, curveball and change-up.” So his stuff may not play up all that well in the majors but he’s posted solid peripherals in the minors. For his pro career he has 7.4 SO/9, 2.3 BB/9 and has allowed 0.9 HR/9. Most of Redmond’s time in the minors has come as a starter, 189 starts in 195 games. So he wouldn’t need to be stretched out.
This season Redmond’s strikeout rate is the highest in the Braves’ organization among any starter Double-A or above. Yes, he’s facing Triple-A batters but he’s missing some bats, and at a better rate than plenty of high-minors pitchers. In Jurrjens’s 57 1/3 Triple-A innings, he struck out only 4.7 batters per 9. In the majors, since the start of last season, Jurrjens has struck out only 5.2 batters per 9. Certainly Redmond, at 27, deserves a shot at some point to throw some major league innings. It may as well be when the team is searching for a starting pitcher.
Maybe the Braves are hoping to showcase Jurrjens and trade him, opening up a spot for Redmond or someone better, either in a bullpen role or in the rotation. I have to think that if Jurrjens shows he serviceable, they’ll take what they can get, unless he’s somehow absolutely dominant for three or four starts in a row at the major league level. Of course, we shouldn’t count on it. But we should count on Redmond earning a spot somewhere in the majors by season’s end.
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