In the last couple of weeks, as Kris Medlen has dominated hitters in major league baseball, we’ve heard comparisons to Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.
That doesn’t happen very often, mainly because Maddux is probably the best pitcher of our generation. He was dominant, particularly in his first few years in Atlanta.
But Medlen has been dominant in the 10 games he’s started since July 31. His numbers are scary: 8-0, 0.76 ERA, 49 hits in 70.2 innings pitched, seven runs allowed, six earned runs allowed, nine walks and 72 strikeouts.
So I decided to look at Maddux’s game logs with Atlanta and see if he ever had a 10-start stretch as dominant as what we’re seeing from Medlen right now.
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He didn’t. He came close, but I could not find a 10-game stretch where Maddux’s ERA was better than the 0.76 mark Medlen has put up in the last seven weeks.
Here are some of the great stretches Maddux had while in an Atlanta uniform, just for comparison.
In 1993, Maddux’s first season in Atlanta, he was 7-1 in his final 10 starts of the regular season with a 1.40 ERA. He allowed 59 hits in 77.1 innings, 14 runs, 12 earned runs, 17 walks and 59 strikeouts.
His 1994 season with Atlanta was incredible, and obviously that was the strike-shortened season. But Maddux had only one game, out of 25 starts, that was not a quality start. That’s only one game where he allowed more than three earned runs in the entire season.
Maddux had a quality start in his first 16 starts of the 1994 season. Then, after giving up five earned runs in a start, he came back and had eight quality starts to end his season.
Maddux’s best stretch in 1994 was his final eight starts of the regular season. He went 6-2, with a 0.93 ERA, 44 hits allowed in 68 innings, 11 runs allowed, seven earned runs allowed, five walks and 50 strikeouts. It’s easy to believe if the strike had not happened Maddux might have continued his great run, but his ERA in that stretch was still lower than what Medlen has done.
Then in 1995 Maddux had two great stretches of solid pitching. First, from May 23 to July 13, Maddux went 7-0 with a 0.99 ERA, 54 hits allowed in 82 innings, nine earned runs, four walks and 68 strikeouts. Then in his final eight games of the regular season, Maddux was 7-0 with an ERA of 0.47, 36 hits allowed in 58 innings pitched, three earned runs, four walks and 46 strikeouts.
Obviously, the Braves had a big lead in 1995 and it looked from the game log like manager Bobby Cox scaled back on Maddux’s innings to prepare for the playoffs. That’s the closest Maddux comes to besting Medlen, but that’s only eight games – not 10 games.
Skip ahead to 1997, when Maddux’s best stretch was from April 6 through May 27. He went 6-0 with a 1.18 ERA, 53 hits in 68.2 innings, 10 runs, nine earned runs, eight walks and 58 strikeouts.
Then in 1998 Maddux’s best 10-game stretch was from May 1 through June 17. He was 8-0 with a 1.16 ERA, 49 hits allowed in 77.1 innings, 13 runs, 10 earned runs, 11 walks and 59 strikeouts. He actually had a pretty successful run if you stretch that out for another nine games. When you start on May 1 and go through 19 starts until August 6, Maddux had an ERA of 1.27.
And then jump to 2002, where you find Maddux’s next best stretch of games. He went 4-1 from June 20 through August 7, with an ERA of 1.08. Maddux allowed 41 hits in 58 innings, 10 runs, eight earned runs, 10 walks and 38 strikeouts.
While those are all incredible numbers, Maddux still falls a tad short of what Medlen is doing now. Medlen hasn’t just been dominant, but when comparing his current stretch to what Maddux did, it’s been a historic run of great pitching.
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