In 2014, Mike Minor of the Atlanta Braves was pretty lousy. His 4.77 ERA, 4.39 FIP, and 3.90 xFIP were all indicators of mediocre performance. Batters hit for a .281 average off of Minor in 2014, which is far above his 2013 mark of a .229 average against. Of course, Mike Minor also suffered from a .323 BABIP, but he also pitched arguably the worst season of his career.
Why Mike Minor will rebound:
Minor was drafted seventh overall by the Atlanta Braves in 2009. He has four pitches, a 6’4” frame, and he will be 27 years old next season. His stuff may not be overpowering, but it is pretty easy to see why he was an effective pitcher in 2013. In 2013, he had a 3.93 K/BB ratio and provided across the board fantasy value with a 3.21 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, struck out 181 batters, and won 13 games in 32 starts.
He looked to be a top 25 SP in 2014, but he completely flopped as he dealt with ineffectiveness and injury. His strikeouts went down, his walks went way up, and baseballs left the yard at a higher rate. Minor was one of the big disappointments this season with pedestrian numbers at best. In fact, his stock fell so much that he is now a late round pick.
Ultimately, I am believer in Mike Minor’s talent. He is good enough to strikeout over a fifth of the batters he faces and I would be surprised if he walks 2.72 batters per nine again. Minor’s 12.9% HR/FB% is above the league average and the Braves play at a neutral stadium, so I would predict that number to fall a little closer to 10% in 2015.
His 3.90 xFIP also shows that he may not have been as bad as we really thought he was in 2014. In fact, the high BABIP is a little bit surprising considering the fact that the Braves had two of the best fielders in baseball in Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward behind him. Even though Heyward is now in St. Louis, Evan Gattis will also likely not be on the Braves and they should have a good defense in 2015.
Instead of drafting a low-upside player to fill out your roster, I would take a strong look at a player who was only a year removed from being a SP #2 or #3.
Why Mike Minor may fail:
Even though Mike Minor only won 6 games in 2014, he may not win that many more in 2015. The Braves seem to be entering a bit of a rebuilding phase and double digit wins could be hard to come by even if he makes 30+ starts. Of course, this is only relevant to wins leagues.
Also, he has a career BB/9 of 2.58. As disappointing as his 2014 BB/9 of 2.72 was, it was not that far off of his career norm. From a fantasy perspective, Minor is very inconsistent with his respect to his WHIP. From 2010 to 2014, Mike Minor had WHIP’s of 1.57, 1.49, 1.15, 1.09, and 1.44. While Minor certainly presents a risk to your team’s WHIP, I think both his BABIP and BB/9 will improve in 2015.
Quite simply, 2015 could just be a repeat of this season. If that is the case, then Mike Minor can be dropped from your fantasy team.