After undergoing uretha surgery and then injuring his shoulder as he tried to ramp up for spring training, Mike Minor has been uninspiring in his first 11 starts this season. It is difficult for those that drafted him and stuck with him during his extended stay on the disabled list, but when should we start worrying and even start considering dropping Minor?
The answer, not now. Minor has always been a fly ball pitcher. He continually finishes near the top of the league in fly ball percentage. With that said, being an extreme fly ball pitcher usually leads to a good deal of home runs allowed and Minor has certainly fit the bill in that respect. Since 2012, his first full season as a starter, Minor has the 15th most home runs allowed. This is true despite his 10.4% career HR/FB rate being not far from league average.
This year, looking at all of Minor’s numbers, the one area he seems to be struggling most is with the home runs allowed. His strikeout rate and walk rate are comparable to his breakout 2013 season, but the high BABIP combined with his high HR/FB rate are essentially the only red marks on Minor’s stat sheet. In fact, his SIERA is identical to his mark last year. Now an argument could be made that his 3.56 SIERA of last year points to him being fortunate in terms of his results last year, but even if that is true it’s a much better number than the 4.50 ERA he is currently sporting.
The big question is whether Mike Minor is the guy that has a 3.24 ERA over the past two calendar years or the guy that has a career 3.97 ERA. He has a career .294 BABIP but has never recorded a year between .272 or .342. He’s been a polarizing pitcher, but signs point to this year being a bit of an aberration. His pitch velocity is extremely consistent year-to-year and while his fastball has been hittable through his first 11 starts, I am not ready to say that he is back to his pre-mid 2012 ways of consistently being inconsistent.
Minor took big strides in his command last year, and if there is one thing I would like to see him control a bit more it would be that factor. He is not far from his 5.6% walk rate of last year, but it is clear that he is most successful when he is pounding the zone. ZiPS and Steamer have Minor with a 3.62 and 3.72 ERA going forward. Those are probably numbers a bit higher than you had hoped when you drafted him, but if there is an owner looking to move Minor I would be willing to be the guy on the acquiring side given his success over the past two calendar years (which includes his 11 rough starts this year).
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