Mike Minor has not pitched horribly this year, despite the unsightly 7.09 ERA. He’s walked just over 7% and struck out almost 22% of all batters faced, both figures being better than league average. His velocity has remained at a 91 MPH average. He’s had his usual flyball tendencies, only getting 34% groundballs. He’s also continued last year’s high line drive rate, though it is not the source of his main problem. Overall, he has a 4.40 FIP and a 3.67 SIERA, so I would usually say he should revert back to normal.
Taking a look at his splits, his slashline against him with the bases empty reads .226/.282/.339. He’s striking out 27% of batters faced and walking 6.5% of them, a great ratio. He’s able to keep the ball on the ground more, though he’s also allowed more line drives out of the windup. With runners on base, the slashline balloons to .380/.461/.766. His K rate is cut in half, though after taking out intentional walks, his BB rate remains the same. The ball starts going in the air, and in the stands, more often.
Pitchers are expected to do a bit worse with runners on base. League OPS with the bases empty is .699, and with runners on, it is .734. It does not explain the doubling of the value in Minor’s case. It is very possible that Minor needs to go to Gwinnett and possibly work only out of the stretch to work on any mechanical issues. He could also be affected by baserunners, and AAA is a good place for lower-stress innings to work on that.
Who replaces Minor?
The rotation, originally thought to be the strength of the club, is suddenly the weakness. Jair Jurrjens has already been sent down to Gwinnett, pitching much worse than Minor. So far in AAA, Jurrjens has a FIP near 4.50, not able to strike out more than 10% of his batters faced. This was also supposed to be the year Julio Teheran stamps his way into the rotation, but a horrible spring halted that. While posting a 2.48 ERA so far, Teheran has posted a FIP near 5.00, allowing 5 HR in 32.2 IP.
Livan Hernandez has the ability to go extended innings, but he’s just not talented enough to throw six innings a game. Kris Medlen was a lot of our favorites coming out of the spring, but he’s no longer stretched out and the Braves seem reluctant to let him start again. Yohan Flande had a great spring and is the lefty some suggest is needed, but he’s walking too many guys for my liking. While it’s possible for the Braves to trade for another starter, I see that as an unlikely avenue.
This brings us to Todd Redmond. The journeyman minor-leaguer, who happens to turn 27 today, is putting up great numbers so far this year, with a 2.84 ERA and a 2.50 FIP. He has struggled keeping the ball in the park in the past, but he’s only allowed 2 HR in 44.1 IP so far this year. The strikeouts are up this year, somewhat expected when spending so much time at one level. He does not have great stuff, but pitchers have survived in the majors with less.
Hopefully, Minor will be able to sort out any problems he has in the majors, but if he can’t, I would like to see if Redmond can capitalize on his first chance in the majors. If Minor gets sent down, who would you like to see take his place?