FOXSportsSouth.com checks in with play-by-play announcer Chip Caray to discuss the latest surrounding the Braves.
FOXSPORTSSOUTH.COM: Mike Minor has had an odd season. He had the offseason shoulder procedure, missed the first month of the season and then proceeded to follow strong starts with bad ones. After Thursday’s win over the Mets he has a 2.22 ERA in his last four starts and has flirted with a no-hitter. Do you believe that Minor has returned to form?
CHIP CARAY: Well if you buy into the last four starts, I think you have to say yes.
We are all in this business, guilty of knee-jerk reactions. If a guy has two bad games, you say ‘Oh, God, he’s never going to get another hit. If a guy had some bad starts, you say ‘Oh, he needs to get sent to the bullpen or traded or whatever. All that stuff plays into it.
Is Mike Minor back? Yeah, I think he’s back. I don’t know that he ever really left he just had a stretch where he had a couple of rough months and he had to play catch-up with everybody else in spring training.
He tried to incorporate some new things that weren’t working and obviously when things don’t work at this level your confidence gets shaken and Mike was cognizant of that, he said ‘I give up home runs and I can’t give up home runs’ and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Whether it was working with pitching coach Roger McDowell and Ervin Santana, his new pitchers or whatever, he’s got a newfound confidence and he’s found success. It’s the old question: which comes first, does confidence breed success or does success breed confidence?
At this point in the year, Mike Minor is pitching like he did last year and if he can do that he gives not only the Braves a great opportunity over the final five weeks to do something special, but going forward and into next year, they need Mike Minor to b a stalwart, a main guy in this rotation. If he pitches like this he shows he can be a top-of-the-rotation kind of guy.
FSS.COM: What’s been the biggest change you’ve noticed in Minor of late? After giving up 18 home runs in his first 17 starts, he appears to be avoiding hard contact.
CC: I think what I’ve noticed about Mike these last four starts is he’s wearing out the down and away corner to lefties and righties alike.
He’s not pitching mistakes out over the middle of the plate and whether it’s a new pitch or new mechanics, it’s the oldest trick in the book. If you don’t leave the ball in the middle of the plate, there’s a pretty good chance the ball isn’t going to get whacked hard some place.
All of those things I’m sure factor into it. We’re just happy with the results and hope they continue.
FSS.COM: The Braves followed Fredi Gonzalez’s approach and got the series win in New York. Now they return home, where they’ve won nine of 13, but they’re 6-7 against this weekend’s opponent, the Marlins, dropping three of the last four. What is it about Miami that gives Atlanta so much trouble?
CC: Power pitching. The Marlins are going to give people problems for a lot of years to come.
They’ve got good, young arms that throw hard. They’re all 95-97 mph guys and when those guys nobody is going to beat them.
I like the Marlins team, I like what they’re doing. All the people that said they were dealing on their fans when they made the big trade with Toronto, well those plans have turned out to be right.
Toronto has not done what they had hoped with R.A. Dickey and Jose Reyes and all the young players the Marlins got have really flourished and done good jobs for them.
They throw and got some good young offensive players. Giancarlo Stanton has had a MVP kind of year, Christian Yelich is one of the best young players that nobody really talks about because he plays in Miami, Adeiny Hechavarria is as good as shortstop as Andrelton Simmons, Casey McGehee is a God-send hitting behind Stanton in their lineup.
They’re a much-improved club. They’re a force, they’ve got a good bullpen and they’ve got good pitching and they’ve got enough timely hitting that if you make a mistake to Stanton he’s going to make you pay.
The Marlins are a threat, there’s no question about it. This is a big series here, it’s a big series down in Miami next week. The Braves have played very well against the division and they’ve gotten back above .500 against the Mets and can do the same against the Marlins.
Then they just have to hope Miami gets hot and beats up on the Nationals, which is something they haven’t done.
The Braves are winning their games and if they win their games, the rest of the other stuff is going to take care of itself. But it all starts with winning. If they don’t win, it doesn’t matter what anybody else does.