BY DAN MATHEWS
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – Amongst the surprises that came from the shortened 2020 season, it was the emergence of AJ Minter.
The Braves lefty was called upon in crucial situations and exceeded expectations. They needed him in the postseason and he came through. The confidence built in him with every appearance on the mound.
I get it, that trust needed to be earned. The walks needed to go down in 2020 and they did. You needed the strike out numbers to go up and they did. You cannot tell me that he didn’t leave last season, without believing that he belongs in those high leverage situations.
That Game Five start in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers was just what the Braves needed and Minter delivered. You asked for anything positive and he gave you three scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.
Yes, he gave up the game tying home run to Chris Taylor in the deciding Game Seven. But, he gave you all you could ask for in the postseason as a whole.
Minter wasn’t ready for the closers role in 2018. He had some issues in 2019. Then in 2020 he earned Brian Snitker’s trust and fully learned how to pitch as a reliever in Major League Baseball.
AJ Minter is in the position he’s in heading into the 2021 season, based off what he put forth last season. Want to know why some moves in the bullpen were made or in some cases not made in retaining certain pitchers? They’re ready for Minter to take another huge step forward.
I’m not saying that Minter is your closer from day one of the season. However, I’m willing to make available in any high leverage situations and perhaps the chance to make himself that pitcher for this team.
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