A.J. Minter has been one of the bigger disappointments of the Braves season thus far. After a 2020 campaign that saw him post a minuscule 0.83 ERA over 21.2 innings, it was assumed that he would be the team’s go-to setup man in 2021. Unfortunately, it just hasn’t turned out that way. Despite Brian Snitker continuously relying on him in high-leverage situations, Minter was unable to make the proper adjustments, leading to a 1-4 record and 4.86 ERA. It got so bad, Alex Anthopoulos had no choice but to option him to Gwinnett in hopes he could regain his confidence.
Thankfully, it looks like Anthopoulos’ plan is doing Minter some good. He’s appeared with the Stripers seven times since being demoted and has yet to even allow a hit in 7.1 innings. He also has ten strikeouts over that stretch. The Braves should be in no rush to hurry Minter back to the majors, especially with how well their bullpen has pitched of late, but he’s just another reason why I believe this relief core can be pretty formidable down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Minter is one of the most talented pitchers in the world. There aren’t many people that can throw it as hard as him from the left side with excellent secondary offerings. I, and many others, have stated he resembles a left-handed Craig Kimbrel on the mound. However, for whatever reason, it seems like he often gets in his own head, begins doubting his stuff, and then implodes. We’ve seen it from him several times over his five-year career, but we’ve also seen him bounce back and look untouchable again. If Minter can regain his confidence down the stretch, he could become the piece we all expected him to be this season when the Braves need him most.
Eventually, Minter will be needed. Injuries are always a concern, and it’s unlikely that Jesse Chavez and Edgar Santana continue to be as reliable as they have been. Shane Greene and Josh Tomlin are also just wasting roster spots at this point. I’m not sure when he will be recalled, but after he is, he should be used in low-leverage situations before being thrown directly into the fire. That should boost his confidence, and a confident A.J Minter would bolster Atlanta’s bullpen significantly.
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