Minor emerges as candidate for closer's role

Lefty a pleasant surprise after being called upon lately in ninth inning

September 27th, 2017

KANSAS CITY -- Among the bright spots amid a disappointing 2017 season for the Royals are the emergence of second baseman Whit Merrifield, right fielder and right-handed starter Jakob Junis.

And you can add left-hander Mike Minor's emergence as a potential closer to that list.

Minor now is 4-for-4 in save opportunities this month after nailing down the Royals' 7-4 win over Detroit on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium. He has caught the eye of several scouts who've witnessed his velocity spike to 96-97 mph in the closer's role. He also possesses a searing cutter and a wipeout curveball.

The Royals discovered Minor as a potential closer somewhat by default. During a Sept. 15 game at Cleveland, manager Ned Yost had virtually no one else to turn to from his depleted bullpen to protect a 4-3 lead against the Indians.

Minor got the call in the ninth and he blew the Indians away, striking out the side, for his first career save. It ended the Indians' 22-game winning streak.

"We put him in that spot," Yost said. "It started in Cleveland in that big game. We had an opportunity to win the first game [of the series] and we didn't. was still out at that time. The next night came along, we had the exact same situation, a one-run lead, and he went in and was absolutely fantastic.

"And he's been like that. He seems to thrive in that position."

Yost said it's too soon to talk about next year's possibilities. lost his closer's job earlier this month, but he is in the final year of arbitration and likely will be back to battle once again for the job.

Minor has a mutual option for 2018, but mutual options under Dayton Moore have always been nothing more than an accounting procedure to defer a little money in a contract. Minor will get a $1.25M buyout, and then hit the open market.

The Royals almost certainly will be interested in bringing Minor back, and Minor has indicated he's interested in staying with the Royals, too.

For now, Minor is enjoying his ninth-inning role immensely.

"I don't mind it," Minor said. "It's an adrenaline rush. I think anybody would want that role."

Minor also believes he's showing all interested parties his potential in this role.

"I feel like I've known it all season, or I thought all season that I could do any part of the 'pen," he said. "This kind of just showcases that maybe I could do that with another team, or this team."