Texas Rangers: Mike Minor just keeps getting better and better
By Travis Koch
Add to the Mike Minor 2019 highlight reel, as the Texas Rangers ace tossed his second complete game of the year last night against the Detroit Tigers.
What more can be said about Mike Minor? He’s established himself as one of the top pitchers in Major League Baseball, holding the third lowest ERA among starters and the fifth most innings pitched. He is 8-4, has yet to miss a start and is one of three pitchers to have thrown two complete games in 2019. His second came last night in a Texas Rangers win over the Detroit Tigers.
More and more, we’re hearing murmurs of “Cy Young” when Minor is the topic of conversation. He steps to the mound every five days with a certain swagger that he hasn’t had in years past. Rangers fans have never felt more comfortable than when he toes the rubber.
Some questioned how long he could keep this up, implying that his great success was somewhat fluky. Well, the season has reached the halfway point and Minor is on pace to make 34 starts, toss 225 innings and make a run at the ERA title.
The last pitcher to throw over 220 innings for the Rangers? C.J. Wilson in 2011 (223.1 innings). Yu Darvish finished second in Cy Young voting in 2013. At Minor’s current pace, he’ll possess a lower ERA, toss more innings, make more starts and win more games than Darvish did that year.
Most dominant starting pitchers rely on two, maybe three pitches to put hitters away. Minor has kept hitters guessing all season by consistently executing every pitch within his repertoire. He’s thrown his fastball 42% of the time, down 6% from 2018. He’s using his slider and changeup 20% of the time and his curveball 13%.
To give those percentages perspective, consider the two aces from Houston. Justin Verlander throws his fastball 51% of the time and his slider at 27% clip. He mixes in a curveball and rarely goes to his changeup. Gerrit Cole throws his fastball 54% of the time and his slider 24% of the time.
It’s not very common for a starter to throw each of his pitches at a greater than 10% rate, especially if he throws more than three types of pitches. Max Scherzer doesn’t do it, Madison Bumgarner doesn’t do it, nor does Stephen Strasburg.
Mike Minor has been masterful with his repertoire, and the results are showing. He is setting batters up, pitching backwards, consistently hitting his spots… you name it. He has even sported the high changeup from time to time, something that is generally frowned about, but has worked for him this season.
The Texas Rangers have taken charge and their ace is the leader of the pack. Texas has a Cy Young candidate and an MVP candidate. They have a top-performing offense as well. The more games the Rangers play, the more they look like a playoff team.