On Tuesday, Braves fans will be biting nails, crossing fingers, and otherwise watching from the edges of their seats to see if Mike Minor‘s Summer vacation proves to be the elixir needed to get him back on track.
Mike last pitched on August 1st – an ugly outing in what has proved to be more routine than not for the Vanderbilt product who’s now in his 5th season with Atlanta.
In his last 10 outings, Minor suddenly went from a seemingly confident world-beater to batting-practice coach. Here’s the past 6 of them:
- 8/1, @San Diego: 9.00 ERA ( 5 innings), .350 BABIP, 1K, 2 BB.
- 7/27, San Diego: 4.05 ERA (6.2 innings), .300 BABIP, 6K, 1 BB.
- 7/22, Miami: 18.00 ERA ( 3 innings), .588 BABIP, 1K, 2 BB.
- 7/12, @Cubs: 9.00 ERA ( 6 innings), .500 BABIP, 5K, 1 BB.
- 7/7, @NY Mets: 2.57 ERA ( 7 innings), .056 BABIP, 4K, 2 BB… the lone good recent start
- 7/1, NY Mets: 8.31 ERA (4.1 innings), .467 BABIP, 5K, 1 BB.
But the trigger event may have been the June 10th outing in Colorado, in which Mike gave up 8 runs – all earned – in 4 innings. Before that, he was throwing well. Not so much afterwards. It hasn’t mattered whether he faced a team for the 1st time or the second; at home or away. He’s been just utterly hittable.
So Now What?We’ve chronicled his struggles – here, here, and even here - but now is the time for his return. How’s that going to work?
Realize this: Minor has already had a recent 10-day vacation: 7/12-7/22 over the All Star Break. It didn’t help, as the Marlins lit him up for his worst/shortest outing of the year.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
- Swings and Misses. In 2014, batters are hitting his pitches much more often: up 3% for strikes, up 11% for pitches that aren’t strikes. These are the worst rates of his career, and they come from ‘flat’ pitches, as we’ve suggested.
- Control. With this, I mean the total package: more strikeouts, under 3 walks, and 0-to-1 home runs allowed.
But if this start doesn’t at least show some promise of improvement, then… the Braves are going to have to make a decision, for they cannot afford to give away games every fifth day.
So who does he get to face on Tuesday? The Dodgers – a first place team with the highest offensive production in the National League (measured by fWAR).
No pressure, Mike.