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  1. What’s amazing is that, even with the few criticisms you and I may have with him, he’s slotted as the #5 starter in the Braves club. That’s amazing depth and should not be overlooked by Braves fans.

    How does his changeup compare to Medlen’s? I’ve heard Medlen’s praised as one of the best in the majors.

    Comment by T-Bone — August 10, 2010 @ 11:15 am

  2. Yeah, fantastic depth, both for the present and future.

    Medlen has a good one, no doubt. Comparing right-handed and left-handed pitches has always seemed weird to me, which is why the examples in the article were all left-handed. But yes, both definitely succeed on that pitch more than anything.

    Comment by Bryan Smith — August 10, 2010 @ 11:19 am

  3. Best changeup in the Braves rotation? Better than Jurrjens?

    Comment by NYS — August 10, 2010 @ 11:42 am

  4. I think he could be the BRAVES’ #3 guy, but for most teams, that could be a #2 guy. Hanson, Jurrjens/Teheren, Teheren/Minor, Minor/Medlen, Medlen/Delgado.

    He looked real good…

    Comment by Nick Fleder — August 10, 2010 @ 11:45 am

  5. FWIW, that undersells Delgado for me.

    Comment by Bryan Smith — August 10, 2010 @ 11:47 am

  6. What’s amazing to me is how fast that depth rose to the top. It was a mere two years ago they were starting the likes of Buddy Carlyle and JoJo Reyes and trying to eke something out of Chuck James. Now they seem to not only have enough arms, bu perhaps some to spare.

    They really ought to go and try to pry Colby Rasmus from the Cardinals-dangle a pitcher or two. He’s not well liked or well thought of by LaRussa. Rasmus would be perfect for Atlanta.

    Comment by jirish — August 10, 2010 @ 11:49 am

  7. Considering there’s a valid argument to be made that Jurrjens’ changeup is his 3rd best pitch (FB, Slider, Change)… I’d say yes.

    Comment by Temo — August 10, 2010 @ 11:52 am

  8. You could very well be right, my list is maybe in the next 2 years rather than the next 5 or 6. Teheren could very well end up an ace.

    Point is, listing Minor as a 3, or Teheren as a possible 3 or 4, or Delgado as a possible 4 or 5… it just doesn’t do justice. They could all turn out to be 1’s and 2’s.

    Comment by Nick Fleder — August 10, 2010 @ 11:59 am

  9. I watched the game last night, and it seemed to me that Minor was missing up a lot. Early on, he was lucky. Those pitches were ending up as flyball outs. Later on, he wasn’t so lucky, namely in the fourth inning. I would say that he needs to keep the ball down, but it was his first major-league game. He was undoubtedly all fired up, though he didn’t show it, and that could result in his pitches being up.

    Comment by ChuckO — August 10, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

  10. He reminds me so much of Cliff Lee in build, action and stuff, that if he can develop Lee’s command, he could become a very valuable pitcher. Definitely needs some sharpness on the curve, but the change is definitely an out pitch right now.

    Comment by Justin — August 10, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

  11. Agreed–could see Braves rotation being among the best in baseball in 3-4 years: Hanson, Jurrjens(?), Medlen, Teheran, Delgado, Vizcaino. Perhaps most importantly, no Derek Lowe at 15MM per.

    Comment by NYS — August 10, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

  12. As others mentioned, after watching last nights game (at least until after the little-league style error factory became too frustrating), I definitely think Minor has the potential to rise to a #3 by the end of the year for almost any staff in the league. It definitely felt like he was getting a little too up in the zone when he was behind in the count, and a little wild when he was ahead (trying to make a perfect pitch, I’d gather), but once he settles down into his major league role, I imagine that will smooth out some.

    As far as him having to learn at the back end of a playoff race, I think that’s the best time for him to get starts. He’s the #5, so he’ll be matching up against opponents’ weaker arms, and I like that he gets a couple of months under Bobby Cox while he’s learning what its like to be in the majors… he’ll get to know what it is like to be a Brave before what that means changes next year, and it will make spring training and the beginning of next year that much easier for him. Plus, you can’t underestimate the value of a young guy getting to play games that count… there is something to be said for being thrown into the deep end.

    Comment by GTStD — August 10, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

  13. “…so he’ll be matching up against opponents’ weaker arms…”

    This isn’t true you know, right?

    Comment by Bryan Smith — August 10, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

  14. Admittedly it isn’t always the case, and I haven’t really looked into it or done any research on it, but I don’t think it is unreasonable to suggest that as a manager looks at the rotation, he makes an effort to match up his ace against his opponents. This would typically be done by skipping the number 5 spot if an off-day lines up right, and allows the best pitchers to face each other. It seems that would give you the best chance of winning, and not unreasonable to suggest that he’ll be facing the back end of opponent’s rotations more than anyone else in the rotation.

    Perhaps I am wrong on that point, and if you have evidence otherwise, I concede.

    Comment by GTStD — August 10, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

  15. I mean, I’ll certainly say this: if the Braves feel that Minor, at his current talent level, is the fifth pitcher that gives them the best chance to win, he should stay in the Major Leagues. Winning, over the next month, should come first. However, the point I’m making in the piece is that I think he still has things to learn and improve upon.

    Comment by Bryan Smith — August 10, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

  16. Do you think there’s a better ML rotation #5 arm in the Braves system somewhere? The only guy I can come up with is Kawakami, and clearly Bobby has lost all faith in him, for better or worse.

    Comment by NYS — August 10, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

  17. I agree that he needs more work and has plenty to improve upon. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. The point I was trying to convey is that, excepting perhaps Kawakami, Mike Minor probably is the 5th best starter in the organization. Even though he has many things to improve upon, and isn’t anywhere near as polished as he needs to be, I think learning some of these things at the major league level is more beneficial to the team in the long run than keeping him in the minor leagues.

    This is particularly true if there is another injury to the rotation in September. At that point, the team is in a better position being able to call up Kawakami, who has plenty of quality Major League experience, than if they were forced to call up Minor and have him start a big game late in the season for his debut. This way they’ll have a young kid with a few starts under his belt before the season moves into the home stretch.

    Comment by GTStD — August 10, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  18. Yes, Kawakami is the answer. And I think this is one time when Bobby’s gut instinct has to yield to the track record. Frank Wren should be making the call to replace Minor with Kawakami in the rotation once Kawakami is stretched out.

    Comment by Anon21 — August 10, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

  19. Bryan,
    I’m going to submit a small article I worked on yesterday to show what has happened to all those Brave rookie starters. But on a side note, I read somewhere that he had dropped the use of his curve and limited to throwing sliders, change ups, and FBs, and that was what led to his increase in FB speed.
    Are there any studies about the FB speeds of pitchers that use curve balls vs FB speeds of pitchers that throw sliders? It’d be interesting to look into that.

    Comment by CesarV — August 10, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

  20. Sounds like a left-handed James Shields. Would that be apt?

    Comment by Sandy Kazmir — August 10, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

  21. “…so he’ll be matching up against opponents’ weaker arms…”

    This is what I claimed earlier. As Mr. Smith claims, this seems not to be the case. In order to try and quantify this, at least for Atlanta, I looked at the quality of starting pitching opponents for each Braves starter in 2010. I ranked the Braves starters by opposing pitcher ERA, FIP, xFIP, WHIP, and K/9.

    I figured, via a somewhat naive viewpoint, that the top 3 starters would consistently face better opponents than the bottom 2. However, while it seems that Tim Hudson consistently faces the highest quality opponents (1st or 2nd in each category), Kawakami has generally faced the second highest quality pitchers. In fact, the opening day starter, Derek Lowe, has actually faced some of the worst starting pitching of the group (Avg ERA = 4.7, Avg WHIP = 1.43).

    I retract the comment that Minor will see weaker pitching as a result of being in the #5 spot, as at least for the Braves, it doesn’t seem to really make a difference.

    Comment by GTStD — August 10, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

  22. I honestly have a hard time saying that one will be better than the other for the rest of the season. Kawakami wasn’t particularly good or bad when he was starting, and he was consistently there for the majority of the season which is probably above average for most 5th starters. But if minor can be at least that good then I don’t really see the need to make the switch, especially since it won’t really have an impact on minors arbitration clock and if he can be successful at the MLB level this year then he has a better chance of being a contributor next year and going forward. I guess what I’m saying is I don’t see a net loss this year in having Minor finish the year, and I see a net gain down the road, so I have trouble seeing a valid justification for making the switch back to Kawakami.

    Comment by deadpool — August 10, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

  23. GTDtD: Awesome stuff, going back and educating yourself (and all of us) on your findings. I really wish everyone on here would do that. Great comment.

    Comment by Bryan Smith — August 10, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

  24. I would be cautious in thinking the team has “enough” or “too many” arms – that’s almost never the case, as the Medlen injury, Kawakami tanking, and Lowe’s ongoing mediocrity can attest. Having a 6th or 7th option to fill out the rotation affords maximum flexibility and is a rare advantage to help deal with the inevitable injury or ineffectiveness.

    Comment by Jason B — August 11, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

  25. GTStD, in his book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers,” Chris Jaffe did a lot of work looking at what he called “pitcher leveraging” — when a manager would basically arrange his pitchers’ starts so that good pitchers would face good teams and bad pitchers would face bad teams. Casey Stengel was one of the most prominent leveragers ever, and Whitey Ford was one of the most leveraged pitchers. But he finds that the practice pretty much died out in the 1960’s, never to return.

    I realize that’s slightly different than what you’re talking about, which is actually matching up your pitchers with opposing pitchers, rather than just opposing teams. But you might be interested in Jaffe’s work.

    Comment by Alex Remington — August 16, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

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