Managing a Minor problem

Mike Minor pitching for the Atlanta Braves

After missing out on the number five spot last season to teammate Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor looks to have a spot all locked up for 2012. He had a few struggles last season once he reached the majors, but the Braves’ front office seems to agree he has proven himself ready to face a full season in the majors.

Minor, a left handed pitcher, does have an extreme split facing lefties vs righties. In 2011 his K/BB was 5.33 versus left handed hitters, but a modest 2.26 against right handers. He only faced a combined 361 hitters last year, so the sample is still small, but while Minor can handle himself against lefties he will need to work on his attack against right handers.

As a fly ball pitcher, Minor has struggled to keep the ball in the park as well. In two seasons of limited work at the major league level Minor has given up 13 home runs in 123.1 innings pitched. Of those home runs, 12 have come against right handed batters. Minor is a dominant pitcher against lefties, but fairly average against righties. If he doesn’t change anything he’ll be a solid pitcher, but he could get much better with a few changes against right handed batters.

Minor vs RHH

Against right handers, Minor throws mainly two pitches—fastball and changeup (85 percent). The change is solid, working down and away from right handers, and gets a solid rate of ground balls (45 percent of all balls in play). On the other hand, his fastball works in on the hitters and is tagged fairly well. Hitters only whiff at a six percent rate against it and put it in play a fair amount.

It would be silly to expect Minor to drop his fastball rate, but perhaps he should look to use his curve more than just nine percent of the time against the right handers. His curve was a solid pitch even against righties—a 19 percent whiff rate— but he also gets a high fly ball rate. Only his changeup is truly a ground out pitch.

Minor could use another pitch with downward movement; only his curveball has negative movement. His Fastball, change and slider all have a positive vertical movement. On top of that, his fastball has a tendency to finish up in the zone.

Minor 2011 vs RHH

In 2011 Minor finished with an ERA of 4.14 and a 5-3 won-loss record. The Braves will be looking for Minor to be better in 2012. It’s unlikely Minor is going to suddenly become a ground ball pitcher, but even a slight increase in grounders could do wonders for him. His ability to get out lefties will always keep him in games, but limiting the damage against all the right handers will be the key to his ultimate success.

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