How unstoppable is Kris Medlen right now?
He just won a Major League Baseball-wide online voting competition that included Yankees superstar Derek Jeter, who usually gobbles those up. He made fans look past Felix Hernandez's perfect game. He drew more collective respect than a catalyst for the largest division lead in baseball, Todd Frazier of the Reds.
The Braves' right-hander is your Head & Shoulders Mane Man of the Month for August, based on fan balloting at MLB.com. Medlen received 41 percent of the vote, ahead of 30 percent for Jeter, 15 percent for Frazier and 8 percent for King Felix of the Mariners. Not bad for someone whose place on the monthly ballot was made official only after Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals lost on the final night of August.
The Head & Shoulders Mane Men are being recognized on MLB.com as the star of each game this season. In addition to that daily selection of the top players, fans have a say in deciding the monthly recipients of this fan award. Medlen is the third National League pitcher to win it in 2012, joining Cole Hamels of the Phillies (May) and Matt Cain of the Giants (June).
Medlen, who also was named NL Pitcher of the Month by MLB, allowed only two earned runs in 35 2/3 innings in August, compiling a 0.50 ERA to go along with his 4-0 record and 35 strikeouts. Now in the midst of a six-start winning streak entering a big start this Friday at home against Washington, Medlen has been largely untouchable as a starter. He went 28 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings from Aug. 11-28, the longest such streak in Braves history since Greg Maddux recorded 39 1/3 straight shutout innings from Sept. 2-28, 2000.
Medlen appeared in 38 games as a reliever before his first start. He has come a long way since May 24 in Cincinnati, where the same Todd Frazier he beat out in the vote walked to load the bases in the bottom of the sixth before Medlen came in from the bullpen and allowed a grand slam by Devin Mesoraco on a two-seamer.
No one is doing anything like that to Medlen these days. This voting was based solely on the month of August, but he has carried over his dominance into September, featuring a five-hit, 12-strikeout shutout of Colorado on Sept. 3 and then going six innings to get the win in a rain-delayed game Saturday at New York.
"We talked about it in Spring Training and we knew once he was in the starting rotation, it would be difficult to get him out of it," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's proving us right."
"I know how I am as a pitcher and I know how competitive I am," Medlen said. "When I put it all together, I think I can get results I want. Did I know it would be this kind of success? Not quite. But did I think I could do it? Yes. Did I expect it? Not really."
The four nominees for the monthly honor are selected by an MLB.com editorial panel.
The overall program began with Seattle's Dustin Ackley getting the nod for that first game of the Japan Opening Series on March 28, and it will continue through the World Series clincher. Look back at daily videos to every Mane Men so far, including each of these four monthly candidates.