A little mechanical tweak goes a long way for Minor, Rangers
Progressive Field and Globe Life Park opened the same year, 1994, and the home of the Cleveland Indians is still a nice place to watch a ballgame 25 years later.
Just like Globe Life Park, except when it’s 100 degrees.
The Indians don’t have that problem, at least not very often. They tend to get their fair share of rain, and even snow.
Progressive Field still has that All-Star Game shine to it, including new seats in the press box.
One of the three Texas Rangers All-Stars this year was on the mound Monday night after not pitching last month in the Midsummer Classic.
How did he do?
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 1-0 victory.
On the rebound
Mike Minor reported a mechanical issue after his last start, which came hours after the trade deadline passed and he was still with the Rangers.
Five days later everything appeared to be ironed out, mechanically and mentally.
Minor pitched like an All-Star over seven scoreless innings in his best start since a complete-game victory over the Detroit Tigers on June 26. He scattered seven singles, three of which never left the infield, and issued only one walk that was quickly eliminated by a double play.
The first two Indians reached in the seventh, and Cleveland had runners at first and third with one out only to see Minor strike out Roberto Perez and get Francisco Lindor to bounce sharply into a force out.
Jesse Chavez and Jose Leclerc took care of the rest. Minor, though, did the heavy lifting with a delivery that was more compact and allowed his pitches to be more consistent with their location and shape.
“I felt like I was more in control tonight,” Minor said. “Hitting more spots. I felt mechanically better. Both sides of the plate.”
Minor posted a 6.59 ERA in July, a month that saw him selected to the All-Star Game for the first time and then nearly saw him traded. He faced a two-week barrage of rumors and questions from media that he said became “annoying.”
The past five days have been pressure-free and forward-looking, and a lot more quiet.
“Better because I’m not talking to you guys,” Minor said. “I just feel like it’s back to baseball and I don’t have to worry about seeing something or hearing something or someone telling me something. I can just worry about my mechanics and helping the team. This team.”
The Rangers have won five straight since the deadline passed, so it isn’t simply Minor who has felt a burden lifted from him. He wasn’t the only one who had the potential to be moved.
Now, the Rangers are back to playing the way manager Chris Woodward prefers it.
“We’re just together,” he said.
Room to maneuver
The trade of Chris Martin and the injury to Shawn Kelley have given opportunities to some young relievers who could be part of the 2020 bullpen, and could give rise to Emmanuel Clase pitching late in games.
Kelley should be back soon, as in Tuesday soon. He threw live batting practice Monday at Triple A Nashville, and was expected to meet the Rangers in Cleveland on Tuesday if all went well.
A Kelley return would still leave an opportunity for pitchers like Rafael Montero, Brett Martin and Taylor Guerrieri to get late-game work as they have with Kelley out and since Martin was dealt to Atlanta.
Clase, who tossed 1 2/3 no-hit innings Sunday in his MLB debut, could also see time later in games.
Stuff will play late in games, but a reliever needs to have the right demeanor. He can’t be intimidated by the situation. He has to want to be in tight situations.
That’s what Woodward has seen from the Martin-Montero-Guerrieri group, and he saw it Sunday from Clase as he entered with two one and one out in the fifth inning.
Woodward said that he will continue to pitch Kelley, Chavez and Leclerc late in games when they are available. Leclerc had to pitch around a leadoff double on a ball that appeared to the Rangers to be foul.
“That’s a big one for Jose,” Woodward said. “I think he’ll sleep well tonight.”
But the objective is to win games, not to needlessly test a young reliever.
Those tests will be administered as long as they keep showing they can handle the situations they are put in.
Right-hander Luke Farrell would have been pitching for the Rangers perhaps in April or May this season had it not been for a scary incident in spring training.
Farrell was struck in the face by a line drive March 2 in a Cactus League game against the San Francisco Giants. He underwent surgery to repair the damage and was on a liquid diet for weeks.
But he has been transferred to Double A Frisco to continue his rehab assignment and will pitch there Tuesday. Farrell could be a candidate to pitch for the Rangers in September.
It would seem that a team that had no starting pitching depth this season would want to see Farrell pitch as a warm-up for 2020. It would be a nice personal triumph for the guy, too.
Yohander Mendez is joining Farrell in Frisco and is also scheduled to pitch Tuesday. He was also injured in spring training after feeling pain in his elbow after throwing a pitch. He’s another September possibility, at which point activating him won’t cost him an option year.
Both are on the 60-day injured list, so both would have to be added back to the 40-man roster. Edinson Volquez, who will pitch Wednesday in an Arizona League game, would have to be added, too.
The Rangers could have trouble creating 40-man spots for them and the September call-ups who would need one. Second baseman Nick Solak and right-hander Joe Barlow come to mind. Another righty reliever, Demarcus Evans, would also need a 40-man spot.
Decisions await the general manager.