What do the Braves do with Minor? There aren’t many options

Mike Minor in a start at Colorado. It wasn't good, either. (AP photo)

Mike Minor in a start at Colorado earlier this month. It wasn't good, either. (AP photo)

Fredi Gonzalez said Wednesday night that he thought Mike Minor threw very well — for three innings. Which he did. Minor carried a no-hitter into the fourth. He was gone five outs later, having yielded seven base runners in the span of 10 Miami batters. For the fourth consecutive start, Minor was charged with at least six earned runs. His ERA rose to 7.09.

It’s clear that Minor is becoming a bit of a mess. After Wednesday’s game he said he let down his teammates, the organization and the fans. He said he didn’t want the other Braves looking at him wondering if this start was going to be as bad as last week’s, didn’t want them thinking they’d have to score a lot of runs to win — which had happened both at Colorado and St. Louis — just because Minor is pitching.

Minor is hard on himself, and you can see why. Last month he worked 7 1/3 one-hit innings against Milwaukee, which can hit, and followed that with eight strong innings in Arizona. After three starts, his ERA was 3.10. The past four starts have been awful — 20 2/3 innings, 32 hits (plus 10 walks), 27 earned runs. He’s still striking out people (23 K’s in those 20 2/3 innings), which suggests his stuff isn’t the issue. “I’m just making too many non-competitive pitches,” Minor said Wednesday.

Clearly the Braves want Minor to succeed. You’ll recall that Jair Jurrjens was shipped to Gwinnett after four similarly bad starts. The difference: Jurrjens was bad in spring training, too; Minor was actually quite good in Florida. Minor has at least given the Braves a reason to think he can get people out.

That said, this can’t go on forever. When Minor falls apart, he falls apart completely. Omar Infante led off the fourth with a line single to left, the Marlins’ first hit. Minor then hit Hanley Ramirez in the back and yielded a two-run double to Austin Kearns, whom he would strike out twice. Miami scored three runs in the fourth. The fifth began with singles by Jose Reyes and Infante and would produce three more runs. One bad inning begat another, and soon Minor was gone and his team was facing a five-run deficit.

The Braves’ hitting has been such that they’ve managed to win a few such games, but you’re not going to outslug everybody all the time. The Braves’ starting rotation has the second-worst ERA among National League teams, leading only Colorado. The reasons for that alarming number are Jurrjens, who’s no longer on the 25-man roster, and Minor, who’s still in the rotation.

It’s weird. All spring everyone was worried that the Braves wouldn’t hit, but they have. At issue now is the commodity that seemed to be a given — starting pitching. But what to do about Minor?

“Keep running him out there,” said Gonzalez, the manager, and there really aren’t many other options. Jurrjens just yielded 12 hits and 10 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Class AAA Buffalo Bisons. Moving Kris Medlen from relief wouldn’t do anything to sort out Minor and would mess up the bullpen to boot. Promoting Julio Teheran from Gwinnett would leave the big-league club without a left-handed starter, which isn’t what anybody has in mind.

The good thing is that the Braves aren’t in free-fall. They’ve lost one game in a row to fall a half-game out of first place. For all Minor’s struggles, they’ve worked around most of them, winning five of his eight starts. Over the long haul though, they need him to be a lot better. They need a lefty, and he’s the only one of those on the horizon.

There’s also this: The Braves didn’t draft this Vanderbilt lefty No. 7 overall in 2009 because they thought he’d look spiffy in middle relief. They did it because they thought he would be a big-league starting pitcher very soon. Sure enough, he’s one now. Just not a very good one.

By Mark Bradley

211 comments Add your comment

JipWiz

May 17th, 2012
7:43 am

don

May 17th, 2012
7:46 am

The offense can’t be expected to erase 6 run deficits every time Minor pitches, that’s for sure! Interesting situation.

Bravissimo

May 17th, 2012
7:49 am

I didnt get to watch the game last night. Were most of the hits he gave up bloops or bonafide dingers? Whats the status of Moylan?..that could free up Medlen to start a few games and see if Minor can get it together

Frank Linzy

May 17th, 2012
7:50 am

Seems like a confidence issue to me…I believe that they will work it out.

59bulldawg

May 17th, 2012
7:50 am

It’s getting to be more than a little irksome!

crose714

May 17th, 2012
7:50 am

“It’s weird” is really the only way to describe it. It has to be mental. No need to panic yet. I think Fredi is right, keep running him out there. One stellar perfomance may dictate the rest of his year.

SimpleDawg

May 17th, 2012
7:53 am

Minor talked all that rubish about his being a ML pitcher, and that if the Braves didn’t put him in the starting rotation, he would be happy to go somewhere else to perform his trade.

Yikes, now he is faced with having talked the talk, but can’t walk the walk.

#battleshipmouthhassunktherowboatass.

Savvy

May 17th, 2012
7:53 am

They don’t ‘need’ a lefty. They simply need a starting pitcher, lefty or righty, to be competitive and give the team a chance to win. If Teheran does that better than Minor, then these two players exchange jersyes and Minor goes to Gwinnett to sort out his command( expecially his curveball).

SimpleDawg

May 17th, 2012
7:53 am

OOPS, *rubbish*

SimpleDawg

May 17th, 2012
7:56 am

I just hope that 3/5 of the Braves rotation doesn’t turn out to be AAA pitchers……

birddawgbill

May 17th, 2012
7:57 am

Could they get Glavine to maybe work with Minor? And he seems to also be pitching to some bad luck. Perhaps making sure every time he pitches they put the best defense possible on the field. That would be.
C. Ross
1b. Freeman
2b. Uggla
3b. Chipper
SS. Wilson
LF. Prado
CF. Bourne
RF. Heyward.

tp

May 17th, 2012
8:01 am

In a perfect world, the Braves would have two or three lefty starting pitchers. Since this world is far from perfect, who cares if their pitchers are lefty or righty? In this ultra-competitive division, you just need arms that can help you win games. Yes, it’s a long season, but there’s less room for error than many want to imagine when your neck-and-neck with three other teams.

We can’t afford to be non-competitive every fifth game with Minor. If Teheran or Medlen can at least keep us in a game, then so be it.

bravesfan

May 17th, 2012
8:06 am

Medlin is more proven as a starter than Minor. I think they may be concerned about Medlin’s arm, though, so soon after surgery.

Game Changer

May 17th, 2012
8:06 am

These Braves pitchers are very good. The lack of a pitching coach at Gwinnett and Atlanta is what kills these guys. Technique is 90% of pitching once one gets to this level, No pitcher should ever reach triple a ball without three pitches he can throw for stikes and MLB level. The only pitcher going into this season that should be worrisome in Tommy Hanson, his delivery is still very unorthodox and damaging to the shoulder, so far so good but if/when trouble hits again he will be done for the year. Not sure why Frank Wren is still running the braves.

dean

May 17th, 2012
8:08 am

Minor: “DON’T J.J. ME BRO!”

It’s the bigs. Either perform or get sent down. These Braves are contenders and don’t have the luxury of babying players like they would on a sub-500 team.

rich

May 17th, 2012
8:08 am

I agree with birddawgbill…let Ross catch Minor. At least there is a chance he can throw out someone trying to steal…with McCann, every walk and single turns into a runner at second

Jesse

May 17th, 2012
8:08 am

It’s called hitting the corners of the plate. Talk to Glavine. Have him watch how Glavine just worked the outside of the plate for years.

myside

May 17th, 2012
8:08 am

A two or three inning pitcher is not a starting pitcher.
Put him in the pen as a two or three inning reliever. There are others in the pen who could do at least as well as he is doing.
Maybe if he knew he would not be expected to go more than three it would help him regain some confidence.

Flying Lowly

May 17th, 2012
8:14 am

Simple. Send Minor to AAA,bring up Gilmartin,let Medlen replace Minor as starter.

DevilInLaw

May 17th, 2012
8:15 am

Regarding Mark’s hopes that Minor turns into a legitimate MLB pitcher, I’m reminded of the apt phrase, “You can hope in one hand and poop in the other and see which one fills up first.”

Time to just admit that Minor is a major bust for a no. 7 overall pick.

dean

May 17th, 2012
8:21 am

He is not a bust. He just needs to work some more down yonder. Compared to when Glavine and Smoltz were coming up he is definitely not a bust.

tp

May 17th, 2012
8:23 am

Thanks, DevillnLaw. I’ve been trying to lose weight and, now that you mentioned that Minor was that high of a pick, I threw up my breakfast. He was picked THAT high in the draft? When did Ken Herock start drafting players for the Braves?

Aundray Bruce

May 17th, 2012
8:24 am

Hey, lay off Kenny. He’s my man! War Eagle!

FANtastic

May 17th, 2012
8:24 am

Seems like if his next start goes as poorly, bring Teheran up to start for a couple of games. Minor really needs to work on control and his confidence.

Atticus

May 17th, 2012
8:28 am

Oh and Jurjjens got rocked last night. Nice.

Put Medlen in the rotation!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

May 17th, 2012
8:28 am

Well it simply could be he is not as good as his first three starts, but not as bad as his last four either. Baseball is a marathon not a sprint. Give the kid time with McDowell to make the adjustments and it will be corrected. This is the first season where we are expecting 30 starts from the young man and we should expect a few bad starts strung out in a row from him. This should not come as a surprise really.

observer

May 17th, 2012
8:29 am

The real question is what to do with Fredi Gonzalez. Given Minor’s performance in recent games why do you leave Minor in until the game is out of reach? Fredi appears to be clueless in terms of handling a pitching staff; this will become more and more evident as the year goes on.

D man

May 17th, 2012
8:34 am

Send Minor to the bullpen and let Medlin start in his place.

Looking Down From Above

May 17th, 2012
8:38 am

Maybe the issue is not a pitcher issue but a pitching coach issue. Lowe is 6-1 somewhere else, Jurgens got bad and now Minor. I think it’s time to take a hard look at McDowell.

SimpleDawg

May 17th, 2012
8:41 am

Insert Medlen in Minor’s spot. Send Minor to Gwinnett.

Leave the developing young starters in Gwinnett to pitch in a regular routine. Bring up _________ as a mid-inning reliever.

Rickster

May 17th, 2012
8:41 am

If he’s only good for 2-3 innings… make him a middle reliever.

Can We Talk?

May 17th, 2012
8:46 am

Joe Simpson made a comment last night during the broadcast, that it seemed to him that Minor’s troubles have begun when has to pitch out of the stretch.
Glavine responded to say that it should be something they should look at closely.
Could be his mechanics are slightly messed up, release point, push off, something. Or, as Glavine also said, it’s mental and he needs to get away from the mindset of “here we go again.”
I have always agreed with the premise that athletes at this level with such fine talent, barring injury, can have their mindset play a big part in their troubles.
He needs to watch Bull Durham and get his mind right. …Breathe through your eyelids…

arrowhead1959

May 17th, 2012
8:53 am

Minor can be really good for 2-3 innings, which is all Medlen ever pitches, so why not just swap Medlin for Minor for awhile?

Hugo

May 17th, 2012
8:57 am

There is always the minor leagues. Like it was said, you don’t need a lefty in the starting lineup. Rmemeber Jurrgens? What’s the latest on him or someone else. Minor is a liability now.

Derek

May 17th, 2012
8:58 am

Minor said, “I’m just making too many non-competitive pitchers”. Is that a misquote, did he mean to say “pitches”? That’d make a lot more sense.

Minor has the stuff to be a dominant pitcher, he just needs consistency and confidence, which is what Medlen has gained in dominating middle relief. I’m not suggesting inserting Medlen into the rotation spot if Minor does go to the bullpen, but I’d be more reserved in seeing Minor stay up with the Braves, getting rid of Durbin, and let Medlen/Teheran go for the spot. I’d rather see Teheran, though I love Medlen.

Jo Nicca

May 17th, 2012
9:01 am

Kris Medlen will not and cannot be a starter. I wish people would stop saying that. For one his arm wont be able to allow him the throw 6 innings. And two he is more valuable in the pen as a bridge to kimbrel.

Yes the Braves do need a lefty starter. They only have 2 lefties in the pen both of whom get used up more than anybody. It balances the team having atleast 3 but rather 4 lefties and causes disadvantages to others teams. Hopefully, Minor can get it together and come back to form otherwise this may be a bad situation atlanta doesnt want to go in to july looking for a lefty starter.

Double Zero Eight

May 17th, 2012
9:02 am

I don’t care what the Braves ERA has been under McDowell,
he is not as good as Leo Mazzone was. Mazzone was an expert
in working with the mechanics.

Give Minor another start and if he gets “rocked” again, send him
to Gwinnett.

Gene

May 17th, 2012
9:04 am

Fredi does tend to leave a pitcher in until the game is out of hand. It is pretty obvious when a pitcher doesn’t have it. Minor has some talent and will probably improve. I don’t care how many games Lowe wins for the Indians. I never want to see him in a Braves’ uniform.

Derek

May 17th, 2012
9:04 am

Braves have worked effectively without a lefty for the last couple of years. Why all of a sudden do we need one now, at least enough to run the risk of playing a struggling pitcher just to have a southpaw in the rotation? There’s not a whole lot of great lefty hitters in the NL East right now with Howard/Utley out and Ike Davis struggling (Laroche is hot right now), so I don’t see the need.

Joel

May 17th, 2012
9:04 am

What do the ajc do with Bradley? Give him a copy of grammar textbook and require him to learn tenses.

Ralph

May 17th, 2012
9:12 am

Keep running him out there, hum, Isn’t that what they did with Lowe last season????? Minor has never been more th, an a 5 inning pitcher, I think he would be a perfect middle relief pitcher, switch him and Medlen is the best option, Teheran is almost ready, getting better with every start. The Marlins and Mets are crawling up our butts and the Phillies will be soon, very soon.

Ralph

May 17th, 2012
9:16 am

Medlen pitched great as a starter before he got hurt and he could and would do it again if given a chance.

Bill

May 17th, 2012
9:19 am

Not to worry.The great ownership Liberty Media provides will come up with a great way to solve this.

Nativebird

May 17th, 2012
9:22 am

ah, and suddenly it’s the pitching…last fall it was the hitting. Starting this season, error after error. You seeing a pattern? So how many blogs do we have to wait until we get to the real problem?

Coop

May 17th, 2012
9:24 am

I think MInor just has to get it in his head that he is a legitimate major league pitcher. He’s seems very thoughtful and introspective and I just don’t think he quite believes he can really do this. Reminds me a little of Smoltz early in his career and Smoltz had to get head help. No shame in that.

shlomo

May 17th, 2012
9:24 am

why do you bother talking to Fredi? Has he ever said anything intelligent yet?

Jack Dennis TN

May 17th, 2012
9:25 am

Way, way, way too early to give up on him.

AlexH

May 17th, 2012
9:25 am

I cannot believe his performance after his spring training “entitlement” quote in spring training. Proves you get what you earn, and the front office and coaching staff will tell you when you are ready. Not the other way around. He said this on 2/23:

“But after a month or two, somebody’s got to go [when Hudson returns],” Minor said. “Overall, it’s not really – it’s about making the team, but if … I can control my third pitch and have a decent fourth pitch, then there’s no reason I shouldn’t pitch in the big leagues somewhere. 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.”

Trojan

May 17th, 2012
9:28 am

Minor will be ok in the long run. If he can’t get things worked out, the Braves should try Tehran and let Minor work in the minors.

Herschel Talker

May 17th, 2012
9:29 am

MB:

Is it too late to trade him for Carlos Beltran?

HT