SURPRISE, Ariz. – Rangers manager Chris Woodward made it official on Sunday: Left-hander Mike Minor will be the Rangers' Opening Day starter.
Minor will match up against left-hander Jon Lester when the Rangers face the Cubs on March 28 at Globe Life Park. It will be Minor’s first Opening Day start. He was Texas' fourth starter going into last season.
“It’s something every offseason you go into to work hard to be that guy, and this year I thought there was a chance,” Minor said. “But there are a lot of guys in there that could be the Opening Day guy. It feels good that Woody had the confidence in me. I’ve always been labeled a No. 5 or a No. 3 or 4. I feel like I can be an ace, and this year I want to show it.”
Minor was 12-8 with a 4.18 ERA in 28 starts last season. He finished with a 1.12 WHIP that was ninth lowest among pitchers with at least 150 innings, and also the second-best mark by a Rangers pitcher in the past 27 years. Minor was 8-4 with a 3.14 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in his last 16 starts.
“I feel like he has earned this,” Woodward said. “The way he pitched last year, the way he came into camp, his attitude. He wants to be the No. 1 guy, and I feel it’s important that he is. He has set the tone in Spring Training, with his attitude, with his work ethic, his desire to make this team a champion.”
Being the No. 1 starter carries responsibility as the leader of the staff, but Woodward said Minor just needs to continue what he did last season.
“It’s not about results as much as attitude and intent, the way he carries himself every start,” Woodward said. “He’s a reliable guy we can count on every fifth day to match up against the best in the game. He is ready for that, he wants that. That’s all I ask. Results aside, that process will win out in the end.”
The Rangers have not announced the order for the rest of the rotation, but it will likely follow what has been laid out in Spring Training. Minor has been followed by Lance Lynn, Edinson Volquez, Drew Smyly and Shelby Miller in that order this spring.
It is a veteran rotation with a combined 806 Major League starts and 299 wins between them. The biggest question mark is health. Volquez, Smyly and Miller are all coming back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, while Lynn missed all of 2016 for the same reason.
But so far there have been no issues with Opening Day less than three weeks away.
“When we put those five together, they are good names,” Woodward said. “They obviously have a track record about them. You don’t know what they are going to look like coming into Spring Training. To say I am pleasantly surprised is kind of an understatement. I am extremely happy with where they are at. Obviously, health is a huge factor going forward.
“But where they are right now and the way they feel and their attitude, a chip on their shoulder as a collective group, they want to prove the world wrong. I love that.”