Feb 16, 2014; Lake Buena Vistas, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Minor (36) prepares to throw the ball during spring training at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Rotation: Minor Changes Coming? (Updated)

Mike Minor‘s Return?

Most of you know that Mike Minor’s return to the Atlanta Braves’ pitching rotation should be, barring any further setbacks, right around the corner.  In fact, Atlanta Journal Constitution’s David O’Brien reported several days ago that Minor’s most likely return date to the rotation would be Friday, April 25th when the Braves will be playing the Cincinnati Reds.  There is also a possibility that Mike could be good to go on Wednesday the 23rd against the Miami Marlins, but my gut tells me the later date will be the one.

 

Latest Update

According to Carroll Rogers of AJC, here’s the lastest update on Mike Minor’s return to the Braves’ rotation:

Mike Minor rejoined the Braves Monday after completing his rehab work Saturday in Gwinnett. He’ll throw a bullpen on Tuesday and if all goes well, he could rejoin the Braves rotation Saturday against the Reds, at the earliest. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said they’ll make a determination after he throws Tuesday.

“Nothing is written in stone,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a two-way conversation and we’ll go from there.”

 

Hale, Floyd, and Other Factors

The most likely candidate to either head to the bullpen or be sent to Triple-A Gwinnett would be David Hale.  Every pitcher in the current Atlanta rotation has been very good, but Hale has struggled a touch, and is the youngster on the current rotation.  He would be the logical choice, and it remains to be seen whether manager Fredi Gonzalez will opt to keep Hale in the bullpen, or have him work as a starter in the minors.  Hale has done both, and has indicated he’s willing to do both still, and actually enjoys the thrill of relief situations.

There has also been talk of Gavin Floyd factoring into the Atlanta rotation puzzle, and Floyd is nearing the end of his own rehab assignments after Tommy John surgery set him back in May of 2013.  Floyd is a veteran, and has pitched passingly in his rehab starts, but I don’t think Floyd will really factor in, at least not now.  Down the stretch, he may be needed much the same as Freddy Garcia was needed last season, but the current rotation of Julio Teheran, Ervin Santana, Aaron Harang, Alex Wood, and soon to be added Mike Minor, is just too good (and potentially even better) to make any major change.  If Minor or another pitcher hiccups, then it’s good to know you have Floyd or Hale to fall back on.

 

Braves’ Pitching Balance

But the question in my mind is the potential danger to the balance of this amazing four-man rotation, and whether the addition of Mike Minor could upset that balance.  In the end, it’s all rather academic, because no major league baseball team is going to go long this day-and-age with a four man.  That said, we can only hope that Mike Minor will be back to good form.

Mike Minor’s form was indeed good before the off-season urethra surgery he was forced to have, and the subsequent shoulder inflammation that set him back a bit further.  In 2013, Minor went 13-9, with a 3.21 ERA and a 1.090 WHIP in 32 games started.  He struck out 181 batters while only walking 46!

Year W L ERA FIP GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO9
2013 13 9 3.21 3.37 32 204.2 177 79 73 22 46 181 1.090 8.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/22/2014.

 

Final Take

Again, we Atlanta fans can only hope Mike can return to that same form.  Mike is a competitor, takes his game seriously, and I have little doubt that if he’s indeed healthy again, he will make a welcome addition to an already stellar rotation.  What’s your take fans?

 

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