April 17, 2019
The Phillies could use some pitching help, especially in the starting rotation — the team pretty much made that clear earlier on Wednesday when they optioned Nick Pivetta to the minors and added Jerad Eickhoff to their rotation.
And while the Phillies are looking within the organization to solidify their starting pitching, they're also reportedly looking outside as well. Their interest in a still-unsigned Dallas Keuchel has been reported throughout his never-ending free agency process, but according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY, the Phillies are also looking at Rangers starter Mike Minor.
The New York #Mets and Philadelphia #Phillies are showing strong interest in Texas #Rangers ace Mike Minor, who is off to a dazzling start. He pitched a 3-hit CG shutout Tuesday vs. #Angels, and has a 1.27 ERA in his last three starts. He's owed $9.5 million this year and in 2020— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) April 17, 2019
Minor, sporting a 2.60 ERA this season despite giving up 6 runs in 4.2 innings on Opening Day, has had a long road back after missing the 2015 and 2016 seasons with shoulder surgery. And, after posting a complete-game shutout on Tuesday night, it appears he's officially back.
It was the culmination of a long and arduous plan. Minor missed the 2015-16 seasons with a shoulder injury, then returned to the big leagues in 2017 as a relief pitcher with the Royals. When the Rangers signed him as a starter before the 2018 season, there was some question as to the wisdom of the idea. After all, that 2017 season in Kansas City was successful. He struck out 88 hitters and kept a tidy ERA of 2.55 in 77⅔ innings.
But Minor was convinced he could start, and so were the Rangers. They just wanted to be careful about it, especially in a season where the team was never above .500. Why risk another injury when they wanted him to head up the rotation in 2019?
Anyway, that’s all in the past now. After a bumpy Opening Day outing that saw the Tennessee native allow six earned runs in 4⅔ innings, Minor has gone seven, seven, and now nine innings in his last three starts, respectively. Over those 23 innings, he has allowed a total of two runs. [theathletic.com]
Sure, Minor's been dominant over his last few starts, but that also goes back to the second half of last season when he was 6-2 in 10 starts with a 2.97 ERA and 0.936 WHIP. Prior to his comeback season with the Royals in 2017, Minor spent five seasons (2010-2014) with the Braves, who drafted him seventh overall back in 2009.
Despite Minor's success of late and his relatively low price tag of $9.5 million for this year and next, it's worth wondering why the Phillies would want to give up prospects for a 31-year-old who's value hasn't been this high in years and will likely never be this high again, especially when Keuchel is sitting out there unsigned. Obviously you'd hate to see him go to a division rival like the Mets, but why not let them surrender the prospects while you go after Keuchel?
It's obviously earlier than usual for MLB trade rumors — they usually don't start picking up until late June or early July (but with the elimination of the August waiver trade deadline, expect to see a few moves made earlier than usual) — so this is a story worth keeping an eye on as it develops.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports