The Braves bullpen blows right now and there’s no one that’s getting worse results than A.J. Minter. A.J’.s been a steady presence in the bullpen for 7 years, but has been responsible for 5 Braves losses thus far this season. It’s hard to understand what’s actually happening here. While the below 2023 stats and the 8.05 ERA tell the story of Minter’s downfall, what is actually causing it?

A. J. Minter‘s Year by Year Stats:

  • 2017: 16 games, 15 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1.2 BB/9 15.2 K/9
  • 2018: 65 games, 61 IP, 3.23 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, 10.1 K/9
  • 2019: 36 games, 29.1 IP, 7.06 ERA, 7.1 BB/9, 10.7 K/9
  • 2020: 22 games, 21.2 IP, 0.83 ERA, 3.7 BB/9, 10 K/9
  • 2021: 61 games, 51.2 IP, 3.78 ERA, 3.4 BB/9, 9.8 K/9
  • 2022: 75 games, 70 IP, 2.06 ERA, 1.9 BB/9, 12.1 K/9
  • 2023: 20 games, 19 IP, 8.05 ERA, 2.8 BB/9, 11.4 K/9

A Fangraphs 2022 vs. 2023 Comparison

According to Fangraphs, A.J. Minter was the most valuable relief pitcher on the team in 2022, and came in as 5th most valuable RP in all of baseball behind Edwin Diaz, Emmanuel Clase, Devin Williams, and former Brave, Evan Phillips (if you haven’t looked at his stat-line lately, do it now! Holy smokes!). In looking at the advanced metrics, the picture becomes clear.

In 2022, here’s how Fangraphs Rated A.J.’s arsenal in terms of Runs Above Average:

  • Fastball: 10.1. (thrown 49.8% of the time)
  • Cutter: -0.9 (thrown 32.1% of the time)
  • Change up: 6.2 (thrown 18.1 % of the time)

Now 2023:

  • Fastball: -0.2 (thrown 46.9 % of the time)
  • Cutter: 0.9 (thrown 41.1 % of the time)
  • Changeup, -0.5 (thrown 12% of the time)

It’s such a small sample inside a small sample that’s it’s hard to gauge anything that is out of balance at the moment. Sure, the cutter% is up and the changeup is down, but there’s no telling if that’s a philosophy shift or just a feel kinda thing.

Looking into A.J.’s BABIP against is certainly telling as hitters are collectively carrying a .392 BABIP against him. And as we can expect from an inflated BABIP, Minter’s ERA is 8.05, but his xERA, FIP, and xFIP are 4.04, 3.09, and 3.55.

Splits on A.J. are odd right now as well as LHHs have a .955 OPS against him, while RHP are sitting at .692.

What can A.J. Minter’s Statcast Tell Us?

While this graph below encompasses of of A.J.’s work from the 2023 season, Statcast also has a breakdown of how batters fare against his arsenal.

  • Fastball: BA: .259, xBA: .196, SLG: .444, xSLG: .362
  • Cutter: BA: .316, xBA: .299, SLG: .447, xSLG: .478
  • Changeup: BA: .273, xBA: .186, SLG: .273, xSLG: .200

Final Breakdown: I’ve suggested a fake IL stint for A.J., but now looking at all the data, it looks as though it’s just a classic case of bad luck and it happens to relievers, even good ones. By year’s end, I expect Minter’s ERA to be less than half of what it is now and that we will be screaming his name in a very different way than we have thus far this season.

Alright, lads and lasses! Come to the bar and disagree with me!