Minor bump in a promising career
Before reviewing some recent events and preparing for what should be an interesting week, I would like to apologize for the lack of recent activity. As some of you might have guessed, I was sidelined by a medical issue the past week. It has been said a kidney stone can prove more painful than giving birth. To provide some perspective for Braves fans, I would say the multiple stones and infection that haunted me the past eight days were more painful than watching Jo-Jo Reyes and Kyle Davies start opposite ends of a doubleheader in a must-win situation on the last day of regular season.
Among all Braves starters who have made at least 30 starts since the start of the 2000 season, Reyes (6.40) and Davies (6.15) own the two worst ERAs. The guy who ranks third on this list is Mike Minor, who just happens to be scheduled to start Monday night’s series opener against the Reds. Funny how that works out, huh?
Still it is far too early to be worried about the long-term future of Minor, who has posted a 5.39 ERA in his first 32 appearances (31 starts)? Through their first 32 appearances, Tom Glavine (5.33) and Greg Maddux (5.48) owned similar marks.
While I am certainly not projecting Minor has set himself to follow the same legendary path that Glavine and Maddux navigated, I also would never say he is doomed to follow the rocky road traveled by Reyes and Davies.
Minor has acquired a confidence level that was never displayed by either of these two aforementioned pitchers. He shouldered all of the blame when he surrendered a couple home runs in the April 30 loss to the Pirates and proved accountable when he struggled in his first Coors Field start a few days later.
Minor’s recent inability to command his secondary pitches (change and curve) have hurt him when he has gone through the lineup for a second time in both of his past two starts. He allowed two hits and one run through the first three innings of his 4 2/3 inning outing against the Cardinals on April 11.
It appeared the young left-hander had halted his recent woes when he issued one walk and faced one more than the minimum during the first three innings of last week’s start against the Marlins. But proceeded to allow three hits and issue a walk during the next two innings of yet another 4 2/3 inning effort.
Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park certainly does not provide an optimal environment for a young pitcher attempting to get healthy. But it is still far too early to give up on Minor. Just a month ago, he allowed four earned runs in a 21 inning stretch that encompassed starts against the Brewers, D-backs and Dodgers.
Odds and ends: The 26-16 record the Braves carried into Monday was their best through 42 games since the 2003 club began 29-13. Remember this year marked the first time the Braves had been swept in a three-game series to begin a season since 2003.
Martin Prado has hit .381 with a .459 on-base percentage and .571 slugging percentage over his past 22 games. His 1.031 OPS during this span, dating back to April 27, ranks 10th in the National League and easily leads all Braves players. Chipper Jones ranks second with his .826 mark.
The Braves traded Drew Sutton to the Pirates on Sunday for cash considerations. Sutton hit .270 with a .746 OPS in 38 games for Triple-A Gwinnett.