Mike Minor has come a long way since joining the Atlanta Braves rotation in 2012. The 25-year-old southpaw has been the backbone of Atlanta’s pitching staff this season, in large part to his outstanding 2.76 ERA, but he didn’t look like an ace over night.
Minor had a rough time when he first encountered major league hitters. In 2010, during eight starts, he pitched only 40.2 innings and posted a discouraging 5.98 ERA. In 2011 though, Minor returned and greatly improved over 82.2 innings in which he recorded a 4.14 ERA. After showing great promise, Minor was granted a spot in the rotation for 2012, but experienced drastic regression during the first half of the season.
In one of the most frustrating first halves I’ve seen a pitcher endure, he posted a 5.97 ERA. Start after start, the game was seemingly over before it began when Minor pitched. As the season drudged on, I expected Frank Wren to move him to the minors, but after Brandon Beachy left the season for Tommy John surgery, Minor had to step up.
After walking 17 batters in 27.2 innings during June, Minor managed to walk only four in 27.1 innings during July. As he found the command he had been missing, his ERA plummeted, and in the second half he posted a spectacular 2.16 ERA.
Coming into 2013, I had high hopes for Minor, but I expected to see some decent regression from the second half performance in 2012. Contrary to Kris Medlen, who has had a disappointing season compared to last, Minor has outperformed his expectations this year. He currently has the 10th best ERA in the NL and is a major reason why Atlanta has done so well this season, but more importantly, he’s a huge reason for why the Braves are serious contenders.
If Atlanta’s bullpen remains the best in baseball and the rest of the rotation continues to do well, Minor could be the ace the Braves need to go all the way.