Minor to have 'short leash,' limit in next start

August 9th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- Here's how Rangers left-hander got to this point.

Minor looked great in Spring Training. He had 7 2/3 scoreless innings over two Cactus League games, used simulated games to build up his pitch count and was on target to start the second game of the season.

Then, baseball was shut down. Minor went to Knoxville, Tenn., for the birth of his third child and continued to throw live batting practice at his usual offseason facilities. At some point, the Knoxville area had to be shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minor’s throwing program was disrupted until right before Summer Camp began. Pitching coach Julio Rangel said that could be the reason Minor has experienced a drop in velocity and a lack of stamina in his first three starts.

“Mike might be a little behind as far as his arm conditioning,” Rangel said. “It’s hard when you are at home and trying to stay in shape. He was able to throw live BP early on, and then there was a period where they shut down where he was. I think that was part of it; he wasn’t able to throw while the rest of the guys were throwing.”

Minor, who is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Mariners, is 0-3 with a 6.89 ERA in three starts. He was sharp early against the A's on Thursday, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced. Then, he allowed four runs in the fourth.

Minor retired the side in order in the fifth, but he told the Rangers he was “out of gas” at 83 pitches. He had thrown 98 pitches in each of his first two starts.

“I don’t see anything major with him,” Rangel said. “We were looking at some video about his mechanics, he was a little slow. ... He became too methodical and too mechanical. I told him to stay athletic and in rhythm, which he did last outing until he hit that wall.”

The Rangers discussed skipping Minor in the rotation, but they instead will have him on a stricter pitch limit on Tuesday, somewhere around 75 pitches.

“I think he is going to be fine,” Rangel said. “We are going to try and keep a short leash on him. Take the next couple of outings as more of a buildup and try to get him where he needs to be.

Rangers on hold with Goody
The Rangers are without right-handed reliever Nick Goody, who is unavailable because of tightness in his lower back. The team isn't ready to put him on the injured list, but it is a possibility if the condition doesn’t improve.

“I think we are going to give it another 24 hours,” manager Chris Woodward said. “If he is not better, we might consider something. He was pretty sore [Saturday]. It’s a really stiff back.”

Goody, who was acquired off waivers from the Indians this winter, has a 3.00 ERA in five games and earned his first career save in a 7-4 win over the D-backs on July 29.

Rangers beat
• Right-hander Rafael Montero, newly anointed as the Rangers' closer, has worked hard on improving his slider. He only threw it 13.8 percent of the time last year, and right-handed batters hit .327 with a .596 slugging percentage off him. Left-handers hit .111 off him because of a plus changeup. So far this season, as he's using the slider more, right-handers are 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against him.

• Right-hander Edinson Vólquez earned the win in Friday’s 2-0 victory over the Angels. It was his first win with the Rangers since Sept. 7, 2007, against the A's. That’s the longest a pitcher has gone between wins for the team in club history. Danny Darwin (1984 and '95) and Rick Honeycutt (1983 and '94) went almost a full 11 years between wins for Texas.

• Left-hander Kolby Allard threw five scoreless innings Saturday, but he will have to wait for his next start. The Rangers want to keep Lance Lynn pitching every fifth day, so with an off-day Thursday, Lynn will pitch Friday against the Rockies and Allard will go Saturday.