KC Royals: A chance at a bounce back season for Mike Minor

Mike Minor (Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
Mike Minor (Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports) /

Can Mike Minor find his footing with the KC Royals, and see some more success on the mound?

Between now and Opening Day, the Kings of Kauffman writers are analyzing how various Royals performed last season and predicting how they might fare this year. Up today is pitcher Mike Minor.

The KC Royals did a good job of keeping their fans interested during this offseason by bringing in some new players and extending contracts to some already with the team. While some of these new faces could be surprising, one of the most surprising might be starting pitcher Mike Minor.

It’s not surprising because he was one of the high-priced big names, but mainly because the Royals have a large crop of pitching prospects. If there was any spot they may have felt comfortable in, it’s likely the future of the pitching corps.

Many of those prospects still need some time, though, and having some veteran leadership with a decent upside is always important. This is why the Mike Minor deal does make sense.

Minor is 33 years old and originally started his career in the Atlanta Braves organization, playing at Single-A in 2009. He quickly made his way through the minors, pitching 40.2 innings of major league ball in 2010.

From 2011 until 2014, he saw his time on the mound begin to increase, touching 204.2 innings in 2013 and seeing decent success. Unfortunately, Minor missed all of the 2015 and 2016 seasons after suffering a torn labrum.

He did spend a short amount of time in the KC Royals minor leagues in 2016 rehabbing but didn’t see major league time until 2017. Still, he had a good season. Pitching out of the Royals bullpen, he threw 77.2 innings and held his ERA at 2.55.

He was granted free agency after the 2017 season and signed with the Texas Rangers where he spent the entirety of the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

In 2019, he had an outstanding season, pitching 208.1 innings and holding his ERA at 3.59. He also made the All-Star game and finished 8th in Cy Young voting. 2020 was not as kind to the starter though.

He split the season between Texas and Oakland, pitching a combined 56.2 innings with an ERA of 5.56.

After the 2020 season, he was granted free agency and was signed by the Royals to a multi-year contract. While there is some risk, Minor has seen seasons of success, one of them being in a Royals uniform.

It’s unlikely the Royals expect Minor to give them a Cy Young performance, but he may be able to provide them something else they greatly needed, consistency and innings.

Baseball Reference and FanGraphs projections for Minor’s 2021 Royals season

Baseball Reference and FanGraphs are fairly close in how they see Minor doing for the 2021 season. While there are a few differences, their numbers suggest he could bounce back a bit from 2020, but still not regain his 2019 form.

Baseball Reference has Minor throwing 156.0 innings with an ERA of 4.33, win/loss of 9-10, a BB/9 of 3.2 and a SO/9 of 8.8. FanGraphs has Minor with 176.0 innings and an ERA of 4.40, win/loss of 10-11, and BB/9 of 2.77, and SO/9 of 8.03.

What might 2021 actually hold for Mike Minor in Kansas City?

In all honesty, the Baseball Reference and FanGraphs projections are not likely far off. Minor may be able to bounce back from his 2020 season, but getting back to those numbers from 2019 may be a stretch. Still, he has seen success in Kansas City before, and the change of scenery may be just what he needs to get back on track.

FanGraphs is likely closer in their projection, though. Their BB/9 projection is closer to Minor’s past seasons, and the greater number of innings is what the Royals are hoping for Minor.

Minor may not be the ace of the staff, but what he will likely become is the workhorse. He has seen seasons with over 200 innings and one of them was as recently as 2019. If he can continue that, he will provide the Royals something they need, and a pitcher that can go deep and stop them from relying on their bullpen.

While 2020 was not his best season, it’s difficult to know just how to read such a short sample in a strange year. Any bounce back will be good for the Royals, and if Minor can reclaim some of his success from 2019, he could be the missing piece in the rotation that has been needed in Kansas City.

Next. KC Royals: Is phenom Bobby Witt Jr. close enough yet?. dark

Mike Minor has some work to do to bounce back from 2020, but he has the potential to become the workhorse of the rotation and provide the Royals with some needed innings and consistency.