Texas Rangers

Minor won’t pitch again in 2018. Will his next pitch come on Opening Day 2019?

Interim manager Don Wakamatsu had to take the ball Saturday night from Mike Minor in the fifth inning, even though the left-hander opened with four scoreless frames in an eventual 13-0 loss.
Interim manager Don Wakamatsu had to take the ball Saturday night from Mike Minor in the fifth inning, even though the left-hander opened with four scoreless frames in an eventual 13-0 loss. The Associated Press

Mike Minor has thrown his last pitch of the 2018 season, shut down after 28 starts, and as things stand now, he will throw the Texas Rangers’ first pitch in 2019.

“I hope I am,” Minor said Tuesday about possibly being the Opening Day starter. “I don’t know. It’s not my call. That’s a goal for everybody.”

Minor is the only starter who has a rotation spot for next season, but he has also earned the chance based on what he did this season as an MLB starting pitcher for the first time since 2014.

Minor posted team-highs in starts, innings, wins, strikeouts and just about every other statistical category. He finishes with 157 innings, more than twice what he threw last season as a reliever for the Kansas City Royals.

Though he told the Rangers he could make another start this season, the decision to err on the side of caution was made after he informed the Rangers of some fatigue after his past few starts.

Overall, though, his season rates as a success.

“I feel pretty good about it,” Minor said. “It was a success. I made quite a few starts. It’s something to build on for next year. We’re to the point where we need to shut it down and think about next year.”

The 2019 rotation needs arms. Minor will be one of them, barring an off-season trade, and Edinson Volquez could be another. He is continuing to rehab from his second Tommy John surgery after signing a two-year minor-league deal in spring training.

Yohander Mendez, Adrian Sampson and Ariel Jurado also figure to get a look, and the Rangers are considering re-signing Martin Perez for less money than the $7.5 million club option would pay him.

Mendez, Jurado, Perez, Sampson and Yovani Gallardo, who started Tuesday, will start the final five games of the season.

General manager Jon Daniels acknowledged again Tuesday that the Rangers will have to bring in starters this off-season to fill out the rotation.

“That much is clear,” Daniels said. “That’s just the truth of it. Whether it’s free agency or trade of other creative ways to go about it, that’ll be a priority for us.”

The Rangers were the only team to offer Minor a chance to start after he spent 2017 as a reliever. Interim manager Don Wakamatsu had a first-hand look at it as the Royals’ bench coach and has seen the transformation this season.

He is confident that Minor will continue to improve next season as he did in the second half this year.

“We’re so happy with what happened in the second half,” Wakamatsu said. “He talked about have to make some adjustments, and he feels comfortable back in that role again. Everybody wanted to see if he could doing, meaning be a legitimate starter, and we have that confidence. For us, he’s proved that.”

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