Braves: Time to start giving A.J. Minter some more high leverage opportunities

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Like most of Braves Country, I had high hopes for Minter entering the season. He has absolutely filthy offerings and was coming off a campaign in which he posted a 0.83 ERA. Sure, the sample size was much smaller because of the shortened season, but he was again looking like the potential closer of the future, which was what was expected from him when he was coming up as a prospect.

Unfortunately, Minter’s 2020 success didn’t carry over to 2021. Despite Brian Snitker giving him every opportunity imaginable, Minter never found his footing, leading to a 4.86 ERA, which is a lot worse when nearly all of his appearances were coming in high leverage situations. A stint in AAA was long overdue, and finally, Alex Anthopoulos pulled the plug after an outing on July 18th in which Minter allowed two earned runs while recording just one out, leading to his fourth loss of the season.

However, while I was begging for the Braves to send Minter to Gwinnett at the time, I always thought he had a chance to return and be a key piece to the bullpen. His stuff is simply too good to give up on; it’s always been a mental game with Minter, something that can oftentimes be fixed with some time in AAA to build some confidence. Well, so far, the experiment has worked in Atlanta’s favor.

Minter made light work of his AAA competition. Over seven appearances, he didn’t even allow a hit — let alone a run — while striking out ten, leading to a quick promotion back to the bigs, where he’s been equally as successful since his return.┬áRightfully, Snitker has taken things slowly with him — often throwing him in low leverage situations where he can continue to build some confidence. It’s worked; in Minter’s last seven appearances, he has yet to allow a run, and he even received a win in Friday’s thrilling victory over the Giants.

It’s become apparent whatever bad mojo Minter was suffering from early in the year is no longer plaguing him. He’s earned more opportunities in high-leverage situations. As far as stuff goes, few pitchers in all of baseball can hold a candle to him. A confident Minter, like the one the Braves have now, is one of the best relievers in the game, which gives the Braves relief core an entirely different look down the stretch.

 

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