On Sunday afternoon we watched Mike Minor give us a “solid” but not great outing against the Mets. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win the game. Now I’m sure most of you didn’t think much of the start by Minor but for me something suddenly hit home. It was like I realized the earth was round. Something so simple that it seems to be escaping everyone.
What has Derek Lowe been giving us all season? Decent outings at best. Very similar to the one that Mike Minor gave us this past weekend. When we look at the numbers they are not overly flattering for the veteran Lowe. Below are the ERA’s posted by Derek Lowe over the course of the past three seasons.
2009: 4.67era/ 2010: 4.00era / 2011: 4.78era
It’s been years since Lowe lasted posted a respectable ERA which I consider one that is under 4.00. Yes he had a great run in September of last year when he went 4-0 with a 1.08era. I’m not saying that wasn’t impressive because it certainly was. He carried us on his back down the stretch last year and was the biggest reason why we were able to clinch the Wild Card spot. I mean maybe Derek Lowe and Jason Heyward should room together on the next road trip so that they can talk about all the success they had last season while the team is trying to WIN NOW.
Mike Minor is 23 years old. Derek Lowe is 38 and at the end of his career. If we are getting very similar results from both pitchers then why not put the younger guy into the rotation? There is a 15 year age difference between the two players. In a year or two Derek Lowe will most likely be retired. Mike Minor is part of the future of this team that’s already very young anyways, why not add a little more youth to it. Minor can still develop and improve, while Lowe is clearly on the way out and is only going to start to deteriorate.
Mike Minor is sitting on a 4.85era this season. That’s not something that he should write home about but is it really that much worse than the 4.78era that Lowe is currently sporting? To me they are one in the same. I see very little edge in putting Lowe out there over Minor. Not to mention if Minor begins to out pitch Lowe. Another edge to having Minor in the rotation is that it gives us a lefty in an all right-handed rotation.
Now I’m not saying that we should release Lowe or do anything crazy like that. Obviously nothing drastic like that can or should happen. Lowe is a big game pitcher and loves to be in the game in crucial situations. Why can’t Lowe move back to the bullpen where he once called home. Let’s take a look at how Derek Lowe did while coming out of the pen. Granted he was younger during his bullpen days but there are lots of veteran pitchers that call the bullpen home. Coming out of the pen is more of a mind set then anything else.
In 1999 Derek Lowe saved 15 games while sporting a 2.63era. In 2000 he had a breakout year as the Boston closer, saving 42 games with an outstanding 2.56era. Even with a slight drop off in 2001 he still managed to save 24 games and produced a solid 3.53era.
Jair Jurrjens will come back from the DL. He will need a spot to fill and it can either be Mike Minor’s spot or Derek Lowe’s spot. The bullpen right now is solid but could stand to be even better. Take a guy like Christhian Martinez out and put Derek Lowe in his place. Or you could replace Anthony Vararo. To me those are the two weakest links in the bullpen right now. Even if Peter Moylan comes back there is still room for both him and Lowe to have spots in the pen.
If this all went according to plan the Braves bullpen would look something like this: Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Eric O’Flaherty, George Sherrill, Arodys Vizcaino, Derek Lowe and Peter Moylan.
Who would want to face that bullpen come October? Derek Lowe gives the bullpen two huge advantages late in games. The first is that Lowe gets a ton of ground balls, perfect for getting double plays late in games. Say you have a 1st and 2nd situation with only 1 out in the 8th inning. Your up 1 run and want to protect that lead. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring in Derek Lowe? Just insert him into that situation. Another thing is that he does have a starter’s stamina. He could always give us 3 or 4 innings in long relief if we went into a long extra inning game or if one of our starters got knocked out early in the game. He could save a lot of wear and tear on the other guys in the pen.