A.J. Minter had a big-time bounce-back in 2020, after a disastrous 2019 following a car crash before spring training. Minter re-assumed his place as a major piece in what was a spectacular Atlanta bullpen in 2020.
What went right?
After a 2019 season in which almost nothing went right for A.J., almost everything went right for him in 2020. Minter only gave up two earned runs the entire season over 21.2 innings. His pitching performance was good for a 0.83/2.82/3.74 ERA/FIP/xFIP. These numbers are obviously spectacular, and Minter once again lived up to his talent, laying his claim to a high leverage spot in the Braves’ bullpen for years to come.
While Minter was brilliant in the regular season, his highlight came when the lights were brightest, as an opener in game 5 of the NLCS against the Dodgers. Minter posted three scoreless innings, a career high, with seven strikeouts, also a career high. He only gave up one hit in this gritty outing. While the series didn’t go Atlanta’s way in the end, Minter’s stellar showing should not be forgotten.
What went wrong?
Minter didn’t really have any truly disastrous outings, giving up no more than one run in any outing all season. Unfortunately, one of these one run outings came at a bad time, when he gave up the game tying home run in the fateful NLCS Game 7. Minter was visibly gassed from the longest outing of his professional career in Game 5, and it was fair to question using him at that time in the game. Nonetheless, A.J. did pitch, and gave up a pretty consequential run, making that the lowlight in an otherwise very bright season.
Minter is arbitration eligible in 2021, and MLB Trade Rumors projects his arbitration value to be somewhere between $1.1-1.6 million. Minter was fantastic for Atlanta this season, has the talent to keep this performance up, is only 27, and has three more seasons of team control. Even in an offseason that teams may be penny-pinching due to revenues lost to the pandemic, it would be an absolute stunner if the Braves didn’t keep Minter at this cheap price tag, so we should expect to see Minter take a prominent role in the bullpen for the 2021 season.