The Texas Rangers have scratched Mike Minor from his scheduled start on Sunday, and will start Joe Palumbo instead, the team announced today. The Rangers are saying this is simply to give Minor a longer break heading into the second half.
This is a...curious decision. Minor has already been replaced on the All Star roster by Shane Bieber, so he still presumably won’t pitch Tuesday. He was slated to pitch against the Astros on Saturday after the All Star Break, which would be a day more than normal rest if he were to start Sunday. And the Rangers are in the playoff hunt, so one would think the Rangers would want to maximize his starts, particularly against a team like Minnesota.
If he isn’t hurt, as the Rangers indicate, one immediately has to wonder if there is a potential trade in the works. Minor — having a Cy Young Award caliber season and under contract through 2020 for cheap — has been seen as one of the most attractive options on the trade market for potential buyers. And the Houston Astros — a team lacking starting pitching depth — just lost Corbin Martin to Tommy John surgery, while the New York Yankees are potentially without Luis Severino through August, and the Boston Red Sox now have a hole in their rotation with the decision to move Nathan Eovaldi to the bullpen.
The decision to skip Minor could simply be what the Rangers have stated — an opportunity to give him extra rest. But it is odd, and it wouldn’t be surprising if there were some other issues at work. This is something to keep an eye on.