A look at whether the Braves lefty is primed for a rebound.
I’ll admit up front that I have a huge soft spot for Mike Minor. I acquired him in my home league as a buy-low guy in late May of 2012, and he proceeded to return gobs and gobs of surplus value for me over the following season-and-a-half. I didn’t end up owning him in any leagues this past season, and I was pretty bummed out about that coming out of my assorted drafts. Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make, though, right? According to NFBC data Minor was taken as the 29th starting pitcher off the board last spring, yet Mike Gianella recently figured him as the fourth-biggest bust among NL starting pitchers after he returned exactly zero dollars-worth of production in a season plagued by injury and poor performance. So what happened here, and where should we be setting expectations for Minor in 2015 and beyond?
The injury issues probably deserve front and center attention as top billing in our story. Minor had what can be charitably described as… well, just a terrible-sounding operation to remove scar tissue from his urethra as the new year dawned. In addition to making men around the country wince and recoil, the procedure knocked him off his standard throwing schedule heading into spring training and led to some shoulder inflammation after he tried to ramp up too quickly. The shoulder issue turned out to be a nagging one, forcing a DL stint that cost him all of April and ending his season prematurely in September as the Braves fell out of contention. When he did toe the rubber in between those shutdowns the results were obviously quite poor relative to the pitcher we saw over the previous 18 months. And the first thing that jumps out in looking at his profile is that Minor’s release point for the vast majority of the season was significantly higher than it had been at any point since his first-half troubles in 2012.
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The fantasy crew breaks down the pitchers they think could beat their PECOTA projections in WHIP.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer-shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’re taking a look at pitching this week, following our run on offense a week ago. To read the earlier editions in this series, click below:
A look at seven starters who should provide good value on your draft-day investment this year.
You know how everyone waits on pitching in drafts every year? Don't feel the need to wait on these pitchers.
Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates
Seasoned fantasy players often avoid taking young arms early in drafts, and for good reason. Prospect hype can lead to inflated ADP and auction prices, and owners can get caught paying for perceived performance rather than likely results. I'm advocating for throwing caution to the wind with Cole, though, and I think his current aggregate ADP (courtesy fantasypros.com) of 103 is quite reasonable. Some people got bored with Cole in the minors as he ever put up huge stats, but he's an absolute horse who's fully capable of notching 200 strikeouts, 15-plus wins, and a sub-3.50 ERA as soon as this year. He may not be a bargain where he's being drafted right now, but you won't have to reach for him either and he's an excellent no. 2 fantasy starter with top-10 SP upside. The term "ace" gets overused a lot, but Cole could become one in short order. —Ben Carsley
Paul & Doug discuss what is wrong with Jon Lester since mid-May and dive into Strasburg's season. Next GOTW: Francisco Liriano at Mike Leake
Stephen Strasburg gives the guys a very interesting start to discuss as he shows flashes of brilliance in a start that ended up rather mediocre statistically speaking. Robbie Erlin suffers a tough day, but the outlook isn't quite as grim.
How can we tell whether a player's performance improved because he did something different or because he had better luck?
Through his first four starts and 26 1/3 innings of 2012, Braves starter Mike Minor allowed one home run, striking out 21 and walking five. He had a 3.42 ERA, and the Braves were 3-1 when he pitched.
Then came his next six starts. In those six starts (four of which Atlanta lost) and 31 2/3 innings, Minor still struck out 30, but he walked 16 and gave up 12 home runs—as many as Tim Hudson allowed all season. Minor’s outings got so ugly that on May 21st, after the fifth of those sixth starts, Fredi Gonzalezdefended him—sort of—by saying, “he only gave up four solo home runs.”
Things people said that look less smart in retrospect (and probably didn't sound that smart at the time).
Elsewhere on the site today, I have an article up about Braves starter Mike Minor, who was awful early in the season and excellent (at least in terms of preventing runs) after May. In that article, I referred to a May 22nd post by Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who cited Minor's respectable xFIP and dared to raise the idea—without ever officially endorsing it, mind you—that he might not continue to allow home runs quite as often as he had to that point. That post got 107 comments. These are the best 15.
Two talented young Diamondbacks starters with different degrees of upside join the group.
Your usual host, Paul Sporer, is away this week crossing things off his bucket list. Things like meeting Robert Pattinson, teaching tortoises how to french kiss, making snow angels in horse manure, and trying to figure out why people find Curb Your Enthusiasm funny… or, you know, doing normal, work-related stuff. He wasn’t very specific… In any case, I’ll be filling in for him today with VP and tomorrow with Weekly Planner. Here goes…
Fredi Gonzalez began the year with a strong group of starters—even with Tim Hudson on the disabled list—and plenty of possible reinforcements. When Jair Jurrjens coughed up five home runs and 10 walks in his first four starts, Atlanta had the luxury of sending him down, because Hudson was finally healthy and Randall Delgado was emerging as a reliable rotation piece.
Legendary scout Bill Wight's legacy lives on in Atlanta's pitching-rich rotation, but should the Braves trade from strength to address a weakness?
The Braves have too many young starters—a statement as timeless as any in baseball, right up there with "the Pirates hope to have a winning season” or “the Yankees lead the league in payroll.” Some things in baseball are destined to stay the same. Atlanta’s evergreen supply of young arms seems to be one of them.
Often, when a person joins a team just as it begins to do something well, he or she is identified as the catalyst for that change. That John Schuerholz has become the iconic figure behind the Braves’ pitching dominance is no surprise. Blossoming starting pitchers shaped Schuerholz’s legacy as much as, or perhaps more than, any other group of players did.