Mike Minor being owned in just 58% of Yahoo! leagues is near criminal. While he is far from an ace, he should probably be owned in at least as many leagues as Lance Lynn (77%) or Brandon Morrow (85%). Not that those pitchers are bad, but Minor seems to be at least their equals. The fact that he is available in this leagues means there’s at least a decent chance he is available in your league, and probably an even better chance that an opponent in your league would be willing to trade him for less value than he should be worth.
Minor has started to trust his secondary offerings more this year, as in his first four starts all of his secondary pitches are being thrown with a higher frequency while his four-seam fastball is thrown less often. He was primarily known as a fastball-changeup pitcher in the past, who showed both a slider and a breaking ball but did not rely heavily on the pitches. Now, he has upped the frequency of each of those secondary pitches and has received great results.
In the offseason, I elaborated on how Minor has been most effective when throwing his breaking balls more often, which seems to be something that management, the catchers, and Minor also realize. The increased usage of both of his breaking balls seems to have had an effect on the quality of his change up. Rather than specifically waiting on either a fastball or off speed pitches, hitters now have to be legitimately concerned about either a slider or curveball.
Currently, Minor has 21 strikeouts and 5 walks. His command has been better than it has ever been, without question, over the first month of the season. This may not be a sticking point, but he should also receive a few more strikeouts as his walk rate increases as well. His left on base rate of 58.6% is the main reason for his ERA being 3.42 while his FIP sits at 2.48. Most likely, his xFIP is the most accurate pitching metric to look at this early in the season, and expecting something close to a 3.39 ERA the rest of the way through seems reasonable to me. He will most likely strand more base runners, but also allow more home runs.
Pitching in what looks like a pitching-heavy, offense-light NL East could help Minor’s peripherals and in turn his ERA. His career BABIP of .346 does not correlate at all with his current BABIP of .278, but the increased usage of his breaking balls should bring that number down.
Even though his ERA has continually been higher than his peripherals over his career, it is tough to say this will be a continuing trend since he is evolving as a pitcher. Past information is useful to analyze, but a simple regression probably won’t accurately portray who Minor will be going forward. Right now he looks like a quality buy, and if he is a free agent in your league he is an absolute must-add.