Royals lefty Mike Minor struck out the side to end the Indians’ winning streak and pick up his first career save over the weekend, and he tells MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that he’s intrigued by the idea of holding a late-inning relief role moving forward. “I value starting over not knowing when you’re going to pitch,” said Minor, a potential free agent after the season. “But if there’s an opportunity to be an eighth-inning guy or ninth-inning guy, that’d be great.” Minor says that he spoke to Wade Davis about his transition from struggling starter to dominant reliever when the two were teammates last season, and he also pointed to Zach Britton’s similar emergence as one of baseball’s top relief arms. The Royals hold a $10MM mutual option on Minor for the 2018 season, though the 29-year-old’s dominant season could also lead to a return to free agency. In 73 innings, Minor has averaged 10.2 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 with a 43.4 percent ground-ball rate — all of which has resulted in a 2.71 ERA.
More from the Central divisions…
- Byron Buxton and Zach Granite were among the Twins players that were disappointed to hear of the team’s firing of minor league skipper Doug Mientkiewicz, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The longtime Twins first baseman has been managing in Minnesota’s minor league ranks for the past five years and enjoyed his fair share of winning (four playoff appearances), but the team won’t bring him back for a sixth season. “He knows how to bring out the best in players,” Buxton tells Berardino. “He was very fiery. When you did things right, he would let you know, and when you did things wrong, he’d let you know as well — and he’d tell you ways to correct. … He was more of a brother to us.” Granite, the Twins’ minor league player of the year in 2016, credits Mientkiewicz for teaching him ho to drive the ball and taking his game “to the next level.”
- Injured Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright won’t start again in 2017, but he’ll return to the club as a reliever for the final few weeks, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wainwright faced teammates Magneuris Sierra, Luke Voit and Alex Mejia in a live batting practice session Sunday morning, per Goold, with manager Mike Matheny catching. Rookie Jack Flaherty will make three more starts this season in what was Wainwright’s rotation spot, though he could be paired with either Wainwright or John Gant in a “piggyback” type of setting, per Goold, where he’d be lifted after four to five innings to help preserve his workload. Interestingly, Goold also notes that Wainwright tried out the changeup grip of young teammate Luke Weaver during his most recent throwing session and will test it out in games over the season’s final weeks.
- Fangraphs’ Travis Sawchik spoke to Pirates general manager Neal Huntington about the growing presence of Statcast in today’s game and how technology can coexist with teams’ scouting departments. While some see the advent of Statcast as a threat to the scouting community, Huntington — a former advance scout — suggests that the technology could instead be an advantage to scouts. Rather than tracking the minutia of a game — pitch location, batted ball outcomes, etc. — scouts can instead be freed to watch more intangible elements of the game, such as player makeup, baserunning instincts, body language, etc. “It’s one thing to say, ‘The route was efficient, the jump was X, the max speed was Y,'” said Huntington. “It’s another thing to understand defensive instincts. How engaged he away from the ball? Is he a spectator or a participant?”