The Atlanta Braves will look for their second straight sweep and extend their win streak to six games behind the left arm of Mike Minor against the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night. Entering Wednesday, the Braves lead the MLB with a 7-1 record and 2.13 team ERA. Minor will attempt to improve on both those marks against a team that has scored just two runs in two games this series.
Minor did his part in his first start of the 2013 season by stifling the Chicago Cubs‘ offense to just one run and five hits in 7.2 innings. More importantly, he didn’t walk a batter while striking out seven in a very efficient outing in which 60 of his 84 pitches were strikes.
Limiting his walks proved to be the biggest difference for Minor’s success post-All Star break in 2012. Before the break, he walked 40 batters and had a 1.95 strikeout-to-walk ratio. After the break, he walked just 16 batters and his strikeout-to-walk ratio skyrocketed to 4.19. Consequently, his ERA after the break (2.16) was much better than the first half of the season (5.97).
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the key is for Minor on Wednesday and throughout the rest of this season. He is a completely different pitcher when he’s attacking hitters and throwing strikes. He should have no fear of a Marlins’ lineup that is last in the majors in runs scored and 28th in batting average.
The one hitter Minor needs to be careful with is Giancarlo Stanton. So far, the Braves have held Stanton hitless and without an RBI in this series. They have been selective in pitching to him and haven’t been afraid to put him on base (four walks) to attack the rest of the lineup. Minor should follow this blueprint as Stanton is 2-for-6 with two home runs off him in his career.
You should be able to tell early in the game if Minor will have a good game. The key for him is throwing strikes. If he does that, the Braves should enjoy the night with their second straight sweep.