The Texas Rangers did something right this offseason

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 07: Mike Minor
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 07: Mike Minor /

It wasn’t the most talked about signing this past offseason, but the Texas Rangers signing then reliever, Mike Minor, to a three-year deal has worked out really well.

The Texas Rangers have now won their last four series after taking the deciding game against the San Diego Padres tonight. The 5-2 victory was backed by one of the most dominant outings of the year for a Rangers’ starting pitcher.

Mike Minor pitched seven shutout innings, allowing one hit, no walks and five strikeouts. He took a perfect game through 6 1/3 innings before Eric Hosmer broke it up with a single up the middle. A performance like tonight’s places the deserved spotlight on Minor:

It was a rather uneventful offseason for Texas heading into the 2018 season. They signed a bunch of pitchers that were past their prime and that practically summed it up. However, a signing that certainly went under the radar was the one involving Mike Minor.

Texas Rangers
CHICAGO, IL – MAY 20: Mike Minor #36 of the Texas Rangers throws a pitch during the first inning of a game against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 20, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Minor signed a three-year, $28 million contract with Texas. He was coming off a stellar season with the Kansas City Royals, but as a reliever. A team is always taking a risk when attempting to transition a reliever into a starter. The roles are world’s apart and the glaring unknown is how the reliever would adapt to an increased workload.

Though, the concern was minimal with the Rangers. Reason being, Mike Minor was drafted as a starting pitcher and he pitched his first five big league seasons as a starter. It was injury that forced the lefty to miss two seasons and then fall to a relief role. Minor had success as a starter when he was with the Atlanta Braves. Most notably, he posted a 3.21 ERA over 204 innings with Atlanta in 2013.

It was still a risk for Texas. But what did they have to lose? They signed one of the top relievers in MLB from 2017 at a generous dollar amount. If the transition went haywire, the Rangers could have assigned him to the bullpen. Plus, they knew Minor had the potential to be one of the top arms in a rotation that didn’t have much to offer.

Fast forward to June and Mike Minor has fulfilled his prophecy. Durability is the primary concern when changing from reliever to starter. Thankfully, durability has been no issue for Minor. He ranks third on the team with 85 innings pitched and second with 15 starts made.

Understandably, the Texas Rangers have protected him, as he has exceeded 100 pitches in only two of his starts this season. And for some reason he was pulled after throwing just 85 pitches in his best outing of the season tonight against San Diego.

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Minor’s ERA is currently at 4.64, but that tells very little of the story. It’s the composure, confidence and intelligence displayed by Minor that projects him as a legitimate middle of the rotation starter. He’s pitching as if he didn’t go three years without making a start.

His fast ball ranges in the low 90s, he possesses a strikeout pitch in his slider and he is not afraid to mix in his changeup. Most importantly, Minor has stayed healthy and has only progressed from start to start.

Next year may not see the Texas Rangers contend; however, 2020 could. Regardless, Mike Minor is under contract for the next two years. It seems the Rangers will have a reliable mid-rotation starter during that span. If he continues to improve then he could even be traded. While a trade is not expected to occur this season, it may next season.

Next: Rangers offering three players at the deadline

Mike Minor transitioning from reliever to starter is a project gone right for the Texas Rangers in 2018. They certainly needed one of those.