Just a few weeks ago the Atlanta Braves appeared to have many problems that would keep them from the MLB postseason. One huge problem was the consistent trouble that starting pitcher Mike Minor was having. It might be too easy to forget that Minor out-dueled Zack Greinke in a Game 2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2013 NLDS. He probably should have been the starter in Game 1 of that series and was as close to an ace as the Braves had last season.
That is why it was such a big deal that Minor struggled for so long this season. It is also the reason that the Braves had no other options. If Minor struggled every start for the rest of the season, every game for the rest of the season would be a struggle. The Braves needed to have him do well and had no money to bring in help via trade or otherwise.
All of those reasons outline why the no-hitter Minor took into the eighth inning on Friday against the Cincinnati Reds was a great sign. Minor has been on the mend lately, having pitched great in his last couple of starts. Because the home run ball has been a problem for him, it had to be a little bit worrisome that his next start was to be in the new MLB launching pad that the Reds call home.
Sure, the hit that he gave up tied the game and that was not great, but the overriding trend for Minor is great. There is no way to know if the Braves will play well enough and have other teams play poorly enough get them into the postseason. If they do, a good finish by Minor will be a key factor that gets them there.