Minor in line to be Royals' full-time closer?

Lefty impressive against Tribe in earning first career save

September 16th, 2017

CLEVELAND -- What Royals fans saw out of left-hander Mike Minor in a closer's role in the 4-3 win over the Indians on Friday night had to make more than a few wonder: With that type of electric stuff, could Minor become a full-time closer?

Minor struck out the side for his first career save, ending the Tribe's American League-record 22-game win streak. And he did so impressively with a four-seam fastball that touched 97 mph, and a cutter in the 89-90 range that appeared unhittable.

Minor got the opportunity on Friday because has lost his closer's job, and because right-hander and left-hander were unavailable.

Moving forward, Minor will get more opportunities to close out games, though manager Ned Yost isn't exactly ready to hand him the full-time job.

"He'll get more chances because it's still closer-by-committee," Yost said. "But yes, he did a really good job. It was impressive."

Minor still considers himself a potential starter, but admits he does covet a late-inning role.

"Having a later inning role is more fun than not knowing when you're going to get in," Minor said. "I value starting over not knowing when you're going to pitch. But if there's an opportunity to be an eighth-inning guy or ninth-inning guy, that'd be great.

"It's weird because a lot of the things you do earlier in games, even if it's good and it helps the team win, it doesn't seem to get valued as much as the late innings, for whatever reason. It's like, 'Yeah, you got those guys out, but it doesn't really count.' I don't get that."

One thing is for sure: Minor enjoyed the adrenaline rush he got in the ninth inning on Friday.

"It was a lot more exciting," Minor said. "It was cool because I was amped up, they were amped up. And it was like, 'This means something.'"

The Royals found a dominant closer in in similar fashion to Minor's present path: A former starter converted to middle relief and then to a late-inning role. Minor actually had conversations about the transition from starter to late-inning guy with Davis last season.

"We used to talk to each other last year, like 'Hey, you weren't that good as a starter. Oh yeah? You weren't, either,'" Minor said. "But you look at Wade as a starter and he was more of a 90-93 sinker-slider guy. Now he's 95-96 cutter-curveball guy and dominant. [Orioles closer] Zach Britton is like that, too. Not that great as a starter but dominant as a closer. I'm not saying I'm that guy. But, it'd be fun to try."

And it appears Minor will get that chance over the next two weeks.

"I hope so," he said.