Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 3/20/12
Mike Minor isnt going to lose the job this spring. No way. Not the way hes pitching. Forget about being the fifth starter, Minor is a sure bet to clinch the No. 4 spot in the Atlanta Braves Opening Day rotation, a year after starting the season in Triple-A. Armed with more experience, more confidence and more determination, Minor has been their best starter this spring. Check that. Hes been one of the best pitchers in baseball in Florida or Arizona. Minor hasnt been scored on in 14 innings this month. No other pitcher in baseball with more than 11 innings can make that claim. Minor doesnt have any wins, but thats not his fault. Thats a burden shouldered by Atlantas offense more than anything hes done. Check out Minors stats. He has struck out 10 batters and allowed only seven hits and five walks in his 14 innings. His ERA is 0.00, which was not tough to figure out. His WHIP is 0.86 and opponents are hitting only .156 against him. I just really didnt know where I was going and was kind of wishy-washy (last spring), Minor recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This year I have more of a path of where Im headed and what they have in store for me. Minor pitched well last spring, giving up just one run in 10 innings, but Brandon Beachy flew in on a one-way ticket from nowhere to allow only two runs in 20 innings and secure a spot in the rotation behind Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson. Instead of being with the Braves in April, Minor ended up with Gwinnett, but that wouldnt last. Minor was recalled to make a start in place of Jurrjens, who was injured, in early April, but gave up seven hits, five runs and four walks in 4 13 innings against Milwaukee. He was sent down again, but came back in May to make two strong starts. Minor won one of his three starts in June, setting up a memorable August in which he went 3-0 as part of a personal five-game winning streak. Minor finished the season 5-3 with a 4.14 ERA, but struck out 77 batters in 82 13 innings. The experience he earned last summer has helped him focus and hone his approach this spring. Minor dominated the Orioles on Sunday, allowing only two hits and a walk in five innings of a 2-2 tie. Hes been great, he really has, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told the AJC on Sunday. Weve seen him give us good outing after good outing. You see the command, and you see his secondary pitches getting better and better and more consistent. I think he could throw almost any pitch at any time now. Hopefully that will continue when we break and go north. Heading into camp, it was thought Minor would battle Teheran and Delgado for the fifth spot in the rotation. The Braves also expected one of those three, or reliever Kris Medlen, to fill a hole left by the absence of Hudson, who will be out until early May while recovering from back surgery. Minor has now virtually sewed up the No. 4 spot until Hudsons return, and has given the Braves a potentially strong No. 5 starter after he comes back. Plus he gives the Braves a left-hander in the rotation for the first time since 2008, when Tom Glavine, Jo-Jo Reyes and Mike Hampton each started at least 13 games in that 72-90 season. I feel like I know all my teammates better and am more comfortable around them, Minor told the AJC. Me and (Brian McCann) have clicked better and know where were going, and (David) Ross when he catches me. It just feels a lot better to be out there on the mound with those guys. If he keeps pitching like this when the games count, Minor will become a major-league star.
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