Further indication that Mike Minor is a major man among Braves

Eric Stults yielded four runs in five innings Wednesday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Eric Stults yielded four runs in five innings Wednesday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Eric Stults yielded four runs in five innings Wednesday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Eric Stults yielded four runs in five innings Wednesday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Atlanta Braves need Mike Minor. Nobody’s sure when/if he’ll be able to pitch, and the team’s clear preference is to not throw a young guy like Mike Foltynewicz into the rotation just yet. That leaves the fourth and fifth starter’s jobs to Eric Stults, signed in February, and Trevor Cahill, imported from Arizona two weeks ago, and they might not be good enough.

Granted, it’s early yet. Stults has made two starts, Cahill one. The Braves are 1-2 in those games, and in the victory Stults failed to hold a 3-0 lead. The lesson herein: Not every retread is Aaron Harang.

The Braves signed Harang last spring after he was cut by Cleveland, and he was mostly terrific, going 12-12 with a 3.57 ERA on a team that couldn’t score. But Harang was allowed to become a free agent and signed with Philadelphia, and the Braves are again in need of cheap rotational help. Because without Minor, the rotation turns only to three.

So long as Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and Shelby Miller is the starting pitcher, the Braves have a fighting chance. But the off-days — counting Thursday, the Braves will have had two in the season’s first 11 days — won’t be as frequent once the season really gets going, and a rotation — like a chain — is only as strong as its weakest link.

In years past, that’s where the Braves beat people. Their Nos. 4 and 5 starters would overmatch everyone else’s Nos. 4 and 5. (Some years Steve Avery and Kevin Millwood were the fourth starters; even John Smoltz once was.) Last year’s rotation — Teheran, Ervin Santana, Harang, Wood and Minor, with doses of Gavin Floyd and David Hale –was why the team held up as long as it did. The Braves led the majors with 110 quality starts but, owing to the absence of offense, won only 79 games.

For all the emphasis on making contact and manufacturing runs, this offense isn’t apt to be anything special. (Sure enough, the Braves have averaged 2.5 runs over the past four games, three of them losses.) We saw Wednesday what happens when the starting pitcher (Stults, in this case) wobbles and the offense manages three hits (two of them homers) — the Braves lost 6-2 to the Marlins and journeyman Dan Haren.

Nobody among Braves knows what’s what with Minor’s shoulder, and team president John Hart darkly suggested that exploratory surgery might be an option if more rest and rehab doesn’t work. The Braves spent the offseason acquiring young pitchers with the thought they’d be brought along slowly, but if Stults and Cahill can’t cut it and Minor can’t get healthy, what else is there?

From myajc: Reality intrudes on the Braves’ flying start.

Reader Comments 0

31 comments
Teamo90s
Teamo90s

If your rotation had three ace-caliber pitchers, a solid No. 3 and a journeyman, would it still be "as strong as its weakest link'?  I don't think that applies there.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Slide down the leaderboard has begun, my lovelies! I'm hoping for the sound of a very big thud when they hit the bottom.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

If one of those 3 reliable starters were to go down, this thing would cave in. Might be time for us to use this sudden new money surplus to bring in a guy?

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

That umpire's strike zone was ridiculous...and AFTER Haren showed him up in the 1st and then went and complained between innings.  That being said I might like to see Wisler soon if this bad pitching continues.


GO BRAVES

richbrave
richbrave

@CowbellHell


What's to see? Off last night performance against the CHARLOTTE club..........no thanks.

THEBITTERTRUTH
THEBITTERTRUTH

I think we need to give them a few more starts before we judge too harshly. In the case of Cahill - he had not pitched in quite a while so he could have been rusty.

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

We in trouble.

Bettancourt cant hit or throw runners out stealing.

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@Iluvnutella Your a freakin idiot dude, he threw out Dee Gordon yesterday!!  AND ripped one a foot foul that hit the fence on the fly...you have no idea what you're talking about  jeez

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

Mark,


You really should institute an MLB Knowledge Exam before allowing some of these people to comment. Yeesh.

JacketDetective
JacketDetective

Observing the picture of Stults, shouldn't he be in the cast of the Walking Dead instead of trying to convince us he can pitch?

Bogey
Bogey

Notwithstanding the surprisingly good start to this season, everyone including Braves mgmt knows this is a rebuilding year. Hart will not stray from the plan, so I don't see the need to go out and spend money for a discarded pitcher who will be a slightly thinner version of Cahill.

I do think it's possible we'll see Folty, Wisler or Jenkins up at some point during the summer, but not until the second half. Let them get their work in out of the pressure cooker - better results long term.

As far as Minor...this may be it for him as a good pitcher. I questioned before how he won his arbitration considering his performance in '14. Hope he gets back on the mound by late May or June so the Braves can trade him at the deadline.....count on some team losing a starter and taking Minor for what would amount to 1/2 a year at $2.9 million.

We all need to relax and enjoy this season for what it is....lots of young players and a more fun brand of BB.

Cahill is a joke, anyone with a clue can look at the back of his bubble gum card and know that.


The logic to bring him over is over my head and would you believe the guy makes 12 million a year?


12 million, granted the Braves pickup only 1/2 of that but look here.


I know a couple of guys with minor league experience running dump trucks that would pitch better and do it for free.


Just put them in a uniform and feed them the spread after games.


Come on Man!   

bpgt
bpgt

  Cahill looks like he spent all offseason at the Golden Corral.  What a disaster.

Scroach
Scroach

Why did we trade David Hale?

Bogey
Bogey

Wonder if the Braves knew something about Hale? Hasn't pitched and is on the DL.

1995oneyearwonder
1995oneyearwonder

Minor might come back, but for how long ?  he had no problem in the winter while working out ? now it is an issue once season starts ?


Braves scouted Cahill in exhibition season and liked him ?  he lost his stuff 2 weeks later ?


with a bunch of slap hitters, we can't get by with  outings like these form starters who have us fall behind early


let's get ready for June draft 6/8 and skip the season.

KENCOWART
KENCOWART

MInor is not coming back to help these atlanta braves.cahill is not an answer, as they hoped he'd be. stoltz will struggle all season. They had better start shopping  for a 4th and 5th guy.Or just wait it out as the season progresses.Since expectations were low and are now suddenly increased, i'd just wait it out. go with 4 starters this first month. i'd give Cahill one more start. He's a fat slob  with nothing new on the horizon, but Freddie would keep and old shoe if someone else wanted it. so we'll be good with the best players taking the field everyday. That is a huge wish. Freddie is at his worst when making out a lineup. I 'm still watching, but not listening anymore. the radio bunch is so homer and lethargic i can't listen anymore. the team makeup has great potential. just keep the fans interested.

JacketDetective
JacketDetective

@KENCOWART Put the blame for Cahill where it belongs. New GMs not much better than the old GM. Should have resigned Harang.

HarryCrews
HarryCrews

@JacketDetective Harang's salary went from $1M in 2014 to $5M in 2015 for the Phillies - where he is pitching well for Ryne Sandberg. He is 37 though and struggled with a lower back injury in the spring. The season is early for Harang and Cahill.

candlin14
candlin14

how abput score more runs the two or maybe three a game???

58Supersports
58Supersports

The Times reported Minor needed surgery ?  now it's a option ?  No problem Braves will pick up another pitcher off waiver in few days.

30yrAtlBravesFan
30yrAtlBravesFan

@58Supersports Thats something the Braves should be looking into. Like 2012 when they got Ben sheets. He was good enough to finish the season strong, but happened to be his last. Why would Minor take his arbitration all the way to have a hearing, knowing his arm was shoot for the year? He got his raise & now he could be out the rest of the year. That's some BS taking his arbitration all the way to his  hearing & getting an extra 500,000. Knowing his arm would require sergery. Lets hope that the Braves can claim someone off waivers that qualified.  

Wilbo
Wilbo

Swan dive down the rankings board begins now...

gfw
gfw

Well, we won't pay for top-flight pitching, so we have to hope Roger McDowell can coach-up the rejects/prospects.  That is, we have to be somewhat lucky, like we were with Harang. 

JacketDetective
JacketDetective

@gfw What's Philly paying him? A better pitcher for much less had we kept him. And would have been wise to do so with the way our pitchers get injured every year.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Dont worry, theyll scour the rehab clinics for some bargain basement bums. I heard Liberty gives out a free set of steak knives for every prospect these clinics give them.

chris_white1972
chris_white1972

It's early, way too early to begin worrying about the 4 and 5 spot in the rotation. This regime won't let this get out of hand and will make a dash into the AAA staff or make a trade.