May 17, 2012 at 5:05 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves, Player Analysis
A certain left-hander out of Vanderbilt has been having some issues lately, as you may have heard.
Ben basically lays Mike Minor’s problems out here for FanGraphs. He mentions the extreme difference in ERA and FIP, the left on base numbers, the numbers from the stretch, and finishes with the conclusion that a larger sample size is needed before the excuses run out.
Minor’s peripherals remind us that patience is needed. He actually has a higher strikeout rate this year than over his 82.2 innings last season, currently at 21.7%. His walk rate is also much lower at 7.4%. He has allowed eight home runs, so his HR/FB is through the roof at 14.3%. But seven of those long balls have come in his last four starts, where he has allowed at least six runs in each outing.
Put this all together and you have an ERA of 7.09 and an xFIP of 3.81. The difference is quite large, and I am a believer of fielding independent numbers teaching a lesson of patience when it comes to situations like this.
But also, Minor’s left on base percentage is 52.7%, which is the second lowest in all of baseball behind Chris Volstad’s. One would think such an extremely high number of runs scored in such situations would regress over the course of a season, and the main factor in this assumption is his peripherals have remained strong.
As gondeee discovered at Talking Chop today, Minor’s numbers indicate a major split between his windup and pitching from the stretch.
“That prompted me to look up some splits this morning, specifically Minors splits with runners on and with the bases empty, and lo and behold the difference is frightening:
Minor in 2012 with bases empty: .226/.282/.339 … .621 OPS
Minor in 2012 with runners on: .422/..461/.766 … 1.226 OPS
This leads me to believe that Minor’s mechanics out of the stretch, when runners are on base, are out of whack somehow. This is further supported by his numbers last year, which show just the opposite…”
I know my limitations in the area of pitching mechanics, so I won’t pretend to watch video of Minor and discover mechanical flaws from the stretch. However, the numbers TC provided show that it’s either another case of small sample size, or something is really up with Minor from the stretch. Numbers don’t lie, and right now they point toward Minor having issues in that area.
Then, there’s also the point that Minor’s last three starts, in which he has allowed 20 runs in 14.1 innings, have unraveled over one or two innings in each start. Against the Rockies, he allowed six of eight runs in two innings. Against the Cardinals, he allowed five of six runs in one inning. Against the Marlins, he allowed all six runs in two innings.
Fredi Gonzalez harped on this in his postgame quotes on Wednesday, indicating that things seem to unravel on Minor in one- or two-inning stints. This ties in to Minor’s inability to get outs with runners on base.
All signs point toward the Braves being patient with Minor for now, perhaps seeing the same numbers as Ben, gondeee and I have mentioned today. Four unraveled starts should not be the death of a pitcher as talented as Minor, especially at his age.