Could A Return To Kansas City Mean A Resurgence For Mike Minor?

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Mike Minor became the latest second/third tier pitcher to ink a contract this offseason, as he signed a multi-year contract to return to Kansas City (he worked as a reliever for Kansas City back in 2017, after missing all of 2016). This time he’s set to be a part of the Royals’ starting rotation, though he’s coming off a miserable year that saw him post a 5.56 ERA over 56.2 IP.

There is hope that he’s not quite that bad (his 62.9% strand rate alone tells us that), though that shouldn’t be viewed as a ringing endorsement. First, let’s look at the three skills we focus on for a starting pitcher:

  • Strikeouts – 9.85 K/9
  • Control – 3.18 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 35.9%

Minor has always featured solid control, with a career 2.62 BB/9. He’s also been generating more swings and misses in recent years, with a SwStr% of 11.5% and 11.4% the past two seasons. That type of mark doesn’t justify quite this type of strikeout rate, but an 8.50-8.75 K/9 wouldn’t be unrealistic. Of course he’s also watched the velocity on his fourseam fastball decline since transitioning back to the rotation:

  • 2017 – 94.86
  • 2018 – 93.26
  • 2019 – 92.78
  • 2020 – 91.10

That doesn’t bode well for the southpaw, who also surprisingly struggled to get strikeouts against left-handed hitters (5.87 K/9). The outlook isn’t quite as impressive as we’d think, and it’s even more likely that he ultimately ends up with a sub-8.00 K/9 than over a strikeout per inning once again.

Then we get to the biggest issue, home runs allowed. His failure to generate a significant number of groundballs led to a 1.75 HR/9 in ’20. While that number should improve, it hasn’t been a one year issue. Over the past three seasons Minor owns a 1.41 HR/9 over 422.0 IP, tying him for 18th among qualified pitchers.

What type of excitement do we have for a pitcher that could see a significant drop in strikeouts to go along with home run issues? Throw in a mediocre team in front of him and the outlook simply isn’t good. Could he be worth streaming at times? Perhaps, but he’s not a pitcher we’d be focused on adding.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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