ATLANTA -- Count John Smoltz among those who have admired what Kris Medlen has accomplished after spending the first four months of this season patiently awaiting the chance to join the Braves' rotation.
"He goes down to the Minors to get innings and then comes back and goes to the bullpen," Smoltz said. "Most guys don't survive that mentally. I don't know what happened inside. He's handled, done and said all of the right things. That's a tribute to him. People have no idea how hard that is to prepare for something and then to go completely opposite."
When the Braves were looking to improve their rotation near the end of May, they took Medlen out of their bullpen and sent him to Triple-A Gwinnett to spend a little more than two weeks preparing to be a starter. But when Medlen was brought back to the Majors in mid-June, his presence was more valuable in the bullpen.
Medlen finally gained his wish to join the rotation on July 31. Over the three weeks that have followed, he has essentially killed any thoughts of him moving back to the bullpen. The versatile right-hander has posted a 1.05 ERA and limited opponents to a .245 on-base percentage in his first four starts. He tossed a five-hit shutout against the Padres on Thursday night.
The Braves have won each of the past 15 games Medlen has started dating to his breakout 2010 season that was halted by the need to undergo Tommy John surgery.
The only other time the Braves have won this many games started by one pitcher was in 1996, when Smoltz constructed an incredible stretch of 15 straight games that vaulted him toward the 1996 National League Cy Young Award.
When Medlen opposes the Nationals on Wednesday night, the Braves will be in position to win 16 consecutive games started by one pitcher for the first time in franchise history.
"When you're fearless and you've got pretty good stuff, that's a great combination," Smoltz said of Medlen. "I think that's what everybody loves to see, his energy. Having energy and being fearless are great. But he's also got the stuff. He really thinks that he's supposed to be there and be able to throw those pitches. I couldn't be happier for anybody. I hope he wins the next 15 and shatters everything."
Medlen has laughed when told about the fact that he now shares this record with Smoltz.
Smoltz went 14-0 with a 1.91 ERA and limited opponents to a .173 batting average during his 15-start stretch. Medlen has compiled a 3.28 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .248 against him during his streak.