Don't be so quick to judge Mike Minor's first start in a Cincinnati Reds uniform

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mike Minor.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mike Minor. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

There's been a lot of anger directed toward Mike Minor after his first start in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. The left-hander got rocked for five runs on six hits while allowing three balls to leave the yard, but it was his first start of the season.

Look, I was as perplexed as the next guy when the Cincinnati front office executed the trade that sent Amir Garrett to Kansas City. Trading for Minor after having let Wade Miley walk for nothing just months prior seemed utterly insane.

But with the southpaw under contract for $10M this season, those Reds fans who want to see Minor off the team had better hope to see some quality starts from the 34-year-old. Because the only was the Cincinnati Reds are moving on from Mike Minor is if they deal him before the trade deadline.

Mike Minor is a workhorse who brings a veteran presence to the Reds rotation.

Mike Minor was brought to Cincinnati, in part, because of his previous relationship with Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson. Minor attended Vanderbilt University where Johnson was the Commodores pitching coach.

But the Reds also needed an innings-eater. With Wade Miley let go last fall and Sonny Gray traded to the Minnesota Twins, the Cincinnati Reds needed a veteran hurler that could give them 150-plus innings in 2022.

Taking the pandemic-shortened 2020 season out of the equation, Minor has eclipsed 145 innings in six of the past seven seasons. The lefty has a 4.05 ERA during that span and averaged 148 innings pitched. By the way, the one season (2017) in which Minor didn't pitch in 145-plus innings, he was coming out of the Kanas City Royals bullpen.

With so many rookies in the Reds rotation, having a reliable arm that David Bell can turn to every five days will be very important as the season moves along. Both Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle are very likely to be traded this summer, and the Reds will then be left without a single pitcher on their roster who's thrown more than 55 innings in a major league season other than Mike Minor.

I'm not expecting to see Minor turn back the clock and turn in an All-Star type season like he did for the Texas Rangers in 2019. But I do expect Minor to get the ball every fifth day and compete. With the Cincinnati Reds all but out of contention, keeping the young arms healthy will become a primary concern as the season enters the dog days of summer.

If Minor gets rocked again when he takes the mound on Wednesday, maybe we can revisit the conversation. With Ross Detwiler as the lone left-hander in the bullpen, perhaps the Reds will entertain the idea of shifting Minor to a relief role if his struggles continue.

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