In Spring Training, the Atlanta Braves struggled as a unit, but it was Mike Minor who was one of their best players. He made six starts, and went 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA. He allowed just 14 hits in 24 innings with 19 strikeouts and made the decision to put him in the starting rotation simple for manager Fredi Gonzalez. His biggest issue during the spring was his walks (14), but that was something the team was hoping he could correct on his own.
Thus far this season, Minor has been hot and cold, but mostly cold. In seven starts, he is 2-2 with a 6.59 ERA with 47 hits allowed and 41 strikeouts. He has found a way to limit his walks (12) but has been a major disappointment in his last three starts. In his past 16 innings, he has allowed 21 earned runs on 26 hits, seven walks, seven home runs allowed and 20 strikeouts. Despite being unable to keep the opposition off the base paths, he still has his strikeout pitch, but that isn't enough.
At this point in the season, the other four starters in the rotation have earned their spot and with Jair Jurrjens fixing his mechanics in the minor leagues right now, the Braves will need to decide what to do with their young lefty.
What are the options?
Earlier in the spring, Minor said that he didn't think he needed to pitch in the minor leagues anymore because at 24, he isn't "the young guy that just got draft." There have been countless quality arms that needed to prove themselves for years in the minors before getting called up. I think Minor has talent, but he obviously hasn't figured out how to pitch consistently at the big league level.
If the team were to trade him, they could bring in a valuable piece to their championship puzzle. If they don't think they can re-sign Michael Bourn, Minor could be used to bring in another center fielder.
Despite his desires to pitch in the majors, Minor could be sent to Triple-A Gwinnett, much like Jurrjens. I don't think Minor is a better pitcher than Jurrjens is at this point, and he accepted his demotion with the understanding that he needed time away from the spotlight to fix his problems.
Keep in Place
When the time comes for Jurrjens to get called back up, the team could keep Minor in the rotation and send Randall Delgado to the minors. Delgado has pitched well this season, but could still improve his mechanics by pitching in the minors. My only problem with this is the National League East race is tight and will be that way for the entire season. If Minor can't fix whatever is wrong with him, it could be a long season for the team and their fans.
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Hobson Lopes has been a life-long Atlanta Braves fan, thanks to TBS, and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.
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