Minor has established himself as one of the game’s top starting pitchers
After Mike Minor produced his latest pitching gem in Saturday night’s win over the Mets, a fan asked if I agreed with his assessment that Mike Minor has been one of Major League Baseball’s top 15 pitchers since last year’s All-Star break?
My Twitter response was, “that is short-changing” what Minor has done over the course of the past 11 months. In fact, the results provide every reason to argue the left-hander has been one of baseball’s top five starting pitchers since exiting June with a 6.20 ERA.
In the 25 starts Minor has made dating back to July 5, Minor has gone 13-6 with a 2.32 ERA. He has limited opponents to a .196 batting average and a .243 on-base percentage.
No other Major League pitcher who has made at least 25 starts during this span has held opponents to a lower batting average. Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw is the only other pitcher who has posted a lower ERA (1.99) and limited opponents to a lower batting average (.187).
Kershaw’s 2.70 career ERA is the best among all starting pitchers who have completed at least 1,000 innings during the live ball era.
So within a span of 11 months, Minor has gone from being on the brink of going back to the Minors to being in the same category as one of this generation’s top starting pitchers.
Courtesy of the decisive blast he sent into the left field seats with two outs in the fifth inning of Saturday’s win, Minor can also say he has hit just as many home runs as Kershaw has during this span.
Minor’s first career home run set the stage of Minor to also deliver last night’s funniest quote while explaining the aggressive approach he took while pitching with a strong wind at his back.
“As you could see the outfielder would take one or two steps back and then sprint forward because of the wind,” Minor said. “I noticed that early on. So I just decided to attack them because if they’re going to try to get it out, they’ve got to have power like me.”
When Julio Teheran was mediocre in this season’s first three starts, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he would be patient with him just like he had been with Minor and Beachy, whose only real struggles as a rookie were his inability to consistently get past the sixth inning.
As Teheran has steadily improved and become one of Atlanta’s most reliable starters over the past month, Gonzalez has said the young pitcher is taking the same path previously navigated by Minor and Beachy. But in all fairness, Teheran is making his strides at a much younger age than either of the other two aforementioned pitchers.
Teheran has compiled a 2.41 ERA in his five past starts leading into tonight’s matchup against the Mets. The 22-year-old hurler has completed at least seven innings three times during this span and was two outs shy of his first career shutout during Monday night’s game against the Twins.
It will be interesting to see how Teheran performs coming off the career-high 123 pitches he threw against the Twins. But he does have the benefit of pitching with one extra day of rest.
When Teheran allowed four runs in the first two innings of his start against the Nationals on April 12, a fan asked if I thought he could turn things around like Minor did last year. My immediate response was that he was still relying too heavily on his fastball and did not have enough command of his offspeed pitches to turn things around without enduring at least another month or two of growing pains.
Over the past month Teheran has proven me wrong. While his changeup is still a work in progress, he has certainly found more comfort with his slider and curveball.
Here is a breakdown of the percentage of fastballs (2-seam and 4-seam) Teheran has thrown in each of his starts this year.
April 6 vs. Cubs: 69.3 percent
April 12 at Nationals: 77.3 percent
April 18 at Pirates: 63.2 percent
April 23 at Rockies 72.2 percent
April 29 vs. Nationals 63.7 percent
May 9 at Giants 72 percent (threw a season-high 10 changeups in this game)
May 14 at D-backs 67 percent
May 20 vs. Twins 64.2 percent
Game situations and specific matchups are obviously going to influence the percentage of fastballs and offspeed pitches thrown in particular games. But the numbers above and the thoughts expressed by catcher Gerald Laird over the past couple of weeks indicate Teheran has already made significant strides in his attempt to prove why he was considered one of the game’s top pitching prospects just two years ago.