Minor's turnaround key to Braves' steady play

Minor's turnaround key to Braves' steady play

PHILADELPHIA -- When June was nearing its end, Mike Minor was answering questions about the possibility of being removed from the Braves' starting rotation. Three months later, he is being asked about the impressive turnaround that has him primed to be a key part of Atlanta's postseason rotation.

"He went from possibly being on the brink of being sent down to being one of our most consistent pitchers over the last month or month and a half," third baseman Chipper Jones said. "He's been outstanding. He can go out and compete with anybody."

Minor took another step in his maturation process when he held his concentration after being given a seven-run, second-inning lead against Roy Halladay and the Phillies on Saturday. The 24-year-old has won four consecutive decisions and posted a 2.37 ERA in the 14 starts he has made since exiting June with a 6.20 ERA.

Minor has limited opponents to a .197 batting average and .247 on-base percentage during that 14-start span dating back to July 5. His teammate Kris Medlen is the only Major League pitcher to allow a lower batting average and on-base percentage during that time.

"It's just experience," Minor said. "It's about having a better game plan, pitching to my strengths and kind of knowing the guys and how to pitch them."

After selecting Minor out of Vanderbilt University with the seventh overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, the Braves were forced to rush the left-hander to the Majors a little more than a calendar year later. The need for more development was evident, as Minor struggled near the end of the 2010 season and proved inconsistent during the 15 starts he made in 2011.

But over the past three months, Minor has made the Braves thankful that they remained patient through the growing pains.