Mike Minor’s Struggles Have Put Atlanta Braves In A Tough Spot

(Photo: John Bazemore / AP)

 

“If they don’t have room for me here, then there’s no reason they shouldn’t trade me or just do something with me.”

“I don’t want to be in Gwinnett my whole career,” Minor said. “I know I’m only 24 and that is not old. But when I turn 25 or 26 next year, if I’m still going up and down [between Atlanta and Gwinnett], then I would think they would do something.” – Atlanta Braves ┬ástarting pitcher Mike Minor to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution back in February (via: MLB.com‘s Mark Bowman)

With Jair Jurrjens already down in Gwinnett (His most recent start he went 4.2 innings, giving up 12 hits and 10 runs, all earned) and the Braves at least partially needing stability in their fourth spot in the rotation must decide quickly what to do with Mike Minor.

Quotes, especially ones like Minor gave at the start of spring training, tend to have a way of coming back to bite you in the rear. He was dazzling in spring training, easily the best pitcher in Florida for the Braves. After a rough initial outing, in which he gave up six runs (all earned) against the Mets he settled in nicely and recovered by throwing 21.1 innings his next three starts against Milwaukee, Arizona, and Los Angeles giving up just four earned and striking out 15 in the process.

That’s when the wheels came off.

His next four starts he’s gone past five innings just once (including twice not making it out of the fourth) and has given up 7, 8, 6, and 6 runs in each of those starts. Miraculous comebacks in both Colorado and St. Louis aside, this has to stop and soon. While the Braves made it close last night (at one point cutting a 6-1 lead to 6-4) they can’t expect to score 10-plus runs every time Minor pitches.

Many in Atlanta will begin clamoring for the Braves to place Kris Medlen in the rotation and call up number one prospect Julio Tehran. Not an ideal scenario given Eric O’Flaherty’s struggles to start the season and Johnny Venters still rounding into form.

Medlen, an impressive option for the rotation in Atlanta, is sorely needed in a bullpen that has Livan Hernandez and Chad Durbin. Options for sure, but Medlen’s insurance makes for a good safety blanket for Fredi Gonzalez.

Minor’s problem is, and always has been, bouts with confidence. One day he wakes up with enough of it to pitch like one of the best young lefties in the game (and make comments like those posted above), the next he’s struggling to find his command after three innings. Almost not believing he had pitched that well up to that point.

Minor was correct in his assessment that he isn’t getting any younger, and sending him back-and-forth to Gwinnett from Atlanta is becoming a less viable option with each miserable outing. I understand the Braves want a lefty in their rotation, and the prospect of a confident Mike Minor is something they don’t want to lose. At what cost is having that lefty there going to take if every fourth day he can’t be depended upon?

So I end by leaving you with his follow-up comments to the “trade talk” controversy back in February:

“I was trying to say I think this is the year I can make the team out of Spring Training and stay there,” Minor said. “If I can’t, and I keep going back to Triple-A this year and then next year, then I’d hope the Braves would trade me.” -Mike Minor, Atlanta Braves

So far this year he’s first in earned-runs allowed, first in home runs allowed, and his ERA continues to trend towards his career, albeit brief, number of 5.39.

Your move, Atlanta.

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