Why It's Time for Julio Teheran to Replace Mike Minor in the Braves Rotation

Matt PowersCorrespondent IIMay 16, 2012

Why It's Time for Julio Teheran to Replace Mike Minor in the Braves Rotation

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    With the recent struggles of starting pitcher Mike Minor there are many who believe that the Braves should option him to the minors and bring up one of their two talented options sitting in Triple-A. Those options would be veteran, and All-Star, Jair Jurrjens as well as promising youngster Julio Teheran.

    This article gives five reasons why now is the time to demote Minor to bring up Julio Teheran, so that we can see what he is capable of.

Mike Minor Is Getting Beaten Up

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    Mike Minor got off to a good start to the 2012 season despite getting hit a little in his season debut against the Mets.

    After his first four starts he had a 2-1 record and an ERA of 3.42 in spite of giving up six runs over five innings to the Mets. However that was the last success Minor has enjoyed.

    Minor's rough stretch started on April 30 against Pittsburgh when he allowed seven runs over six and a third innings. That was followed by allowing eight runs in five innings against the Rockies, though he has an excuse with this one since it was in Denver.

    Minor went into the weekend facing a crossroads after struggling in back-to-back starts and knowing the Braves had a pair of guys pitching well in the minors. However, instead of turning things around from there, Minor gave up six runs in four and two-thirds of an inning against both the Cardinals and the Marlins.

    With this rough stretch Minor has allowed 27 runs in 19.2 innings on 32 hits and 10 walks. That equals an ERA of 12.35 and a WHIP of 2.14. Those numbers simple are not acceptable and even Jair Jurrjens didn't struggle this much before his demotion.

    Minor needs to go to the minors to try to figure out what is wrong and try to correct the issues in a lower pressure situation. Plus while Julio Teheran isn't ready to become an elite starter right now, he can't possibly get knocked around like Minor has been recently.

Ceiling

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    When you look at Mike Minor and Julio Teheran you see two totally opposite pitchers.

    Minor, the southern kid from Vanderbilt, is more of a middle of the rotation left-handed pitcher with good but not great stuff, while the slender Colombian Teheran is a potential ace with a devastating fastball when it is on.

    When he was drafted, Minor profiled as a back of the rotation starter, however after his velocity increased following the draft his stuff started to play better and resulted in more strikeouts. Now he looks like his ceiling is as a very strong no. 3 starter, though he seems more likely to just be a decent no. 3 or strong no. 4.

    Teheran, on the other hand, was once seen as a future ace, and the top pitching prospect in the game at points between the end of the 2010 season and the middle of the 2011 season. Now that he is in the upper levels of the minors and has made his big league debut, scouts have picked him apart and possibly over-analyzed him.

    Still those scouts project him as a very strong no. 2 starter, which is still front of the rotation caliber.

    Sure, both guys are capable of enjoying success in Atlanta at the same time, but right now throwing Minor out there every fifth game is like having a black hole. Minor has not had a decent start in his last four, while there is guy sitting in Triple-A capable of giving the Braves an eventually dominant starter at the front of their rotation.

Julio Teheran Has Improved Recently

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    Julio Teheran came into the spring with a chance to win the final spot in the rotation for the Braves to start the year.

    However, he never really got going all spring, as he seemed to get hit a bit in almost all of his appearances. Because of this, it was actually a pretty easy call to leave Randall Delgado up and send Teheran back to Triple-A.

    Teheran started the Triple-A season by getting blasted in his first start, but he has calmed down since that game.

    In the following six starts he has only struggled once, and even then he wasn't awful. In fact, his three May starts have been great, as he has allowed just three total runs, only two were earned, in 16 innings. During that time he has 14 strikeouts against two walks and 12 hits allowed.

    Teheran's strikeout rate is up from his disappointing output last year and if you take out his bad outings he has given up just six walks in 26.2 innings. Add in the scouting reports from websites like Baseball Prospectus that say his breaking ball has improved, and it looks like he may be putting it all together.

Jair Jurrjens Just Got Destroyed

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    It is pretty obvious that Mike Minor needs to head back to the minors to get right, but what wasn't obvious is who gets the call up to Atlanta. Julio Teheran is a strong candidate, but the Braves also have Jair Jurrjens in the minors.

    The former All-Star was arguably the best pitcher in baseball for the first half of the 2011 season and is being paid a significant amount of money. It is that money which could mean the Braves give him the call so that they could try to get some value back for that cash.

    Jurrjens had pitched well in each of his first three starts since being demoted to try to fix his own struggles. He started 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA through 22 innings, as opponents were only hitting .221 off him. For that reason, he was a very strong candidate to get the call if the Braves demote Minor.

    That all changed tonight in Buffalo.

    In four and two-thirds of an inning, Jurrjens allowed 12 hits, 11 total runs with 10 being earned and two walks. It was starts like this that got Jurrjens demoted in the first place, but when he is getting hit this hard by a lineup led by Fred Lewis, it is hard to promote him without seeing him pitch well again.

Julio Teheran Has Nothing Left to Prove in the Minors

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    Julio Teheran went out and had a dominant 2011 season, one that would earn him numerous awards including the International League's Rookie of the Year and Pitcher of the Year. Overall, he was 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 25 games, numbers that would be impressive for anyone in Triple-A.

    However, when you consider he was only in his age-21 season and making his Triple-A debut against much older competition, those numbers are historically good. The last pitcher to dominate the Triple-A level at that age or younger was Felix Hernandez, who posted a 9-4 record with a 2.25 ERA, though he was just 19 years-old and in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

    Teheran doesn't have anything left to prove in the minors at this point.

    In fact if he pitched for any other organization in baseball (save the Nationals) he would already be in the big leagues to stay with his combination of ability, potential and results at a high level, but the Braves just have an inordinate amount of pitching depth.