Braves have “Minor” ace

John Bazemore

Memorial Day weekend marks the first benchmark of the Major League baseball season for many fans, coaches and media types. Heading into June, the Braves have a respectable lead in the National League Eastern Division over their rival (and the pre-season consensus “it” team) Washington Nationals.

The stability of the Braves’ pitching staff is a big part of how the Braves have proven that they will be force to be reckoned with in early fall. Miraculously, the Braves have only used the five starters they slated for the rotation when they left spring training in late March.

The ace of the staff has clearly been emerging lefthander Mike Minor. After 7.1 scoreless innings and scattering just three hits while racking up 10 strikeouts in a win at the New York Mets over the weekend, Minor is 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA this year. Minor’s ERA is a half run per game better than the Braves’ second-most efficient pitcher, Tim Hudson. Against the Mets, Minor also roped his first career home run.

Minor is putting his name in contention for All-Star consideration. He’s tied for fifth in the National League in wins, and is eighth in pitchers’ earned run average this season. His WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitch) is 0.93, fourth best in the league.

 

BIG MAC ATTACK …

 

While much well deserved praised has been heaped on uber-rookie sensation Evan Gattis, Braves fans should also admire the start of six-time all-star Brian McCann. The start of Gattis combined with his folklore ascent to the major leagues, distinctive bent crouch in the batter’s box and bare knuckles grip on the bat have lifted him to rock star status. But McCann has been better.

Since being activated from the disabled list on May 6, McCann had been mashing baseballs. McCann belted two home runs including the game-winner in extra innings at Toronto on Tuesday. Through the two games in Toronto, the left-handed hitter had six home runs in his first month in only 57 at bats. Those numbers are even more impressive that Gattis’ 12 home runs in 133 at bats. Despite the disparity in at bats McCann had just two fewer walks but 26 less strikeouts through the series in Toronto.

 

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