Sep 13, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Donnie Joseph (49) pitches in the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Donnie Joseph Could be Part of the Kansas City Royals Bullpen


At the start of Spring Training, it had seemed as though the Kansas City Royals bullpen was essentially set. Aside from a potential open spot in the bullpen if Luke Hochevar or Wade Davis were able to win the competition for the fifth starter role, the bullpen was likely to be almost exactly the same as last year.

Feb 24, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Donnie Joseph poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When Hochevar was injured and lost for the season, that opened up the final spot in the bullpen, a role that was likely to go to a second left handed relief option. Being out of options, it would have appeared as though Francisley Bueno would have the inside track at the job, followed by Danny Duffy when he lost out on the final spot in the rotation. However, very quietly, Donnie Joseph has made a strong case for that final bullpen role, and may be emerging as the front runner.

During his time in the minors, Joseph has shown his high strikeout potential, striking out 382 batters in 280 minor league innings. He has also exhibited control problems, allowing 139 walks as well. Those tendencies bore themselves out during his brief trial during September of last year, when Joseph struck out 7 in 5.2 innings, but also walked 4 batters. Based on his track record, it would seem that Joseph may have needed a bit more time in the minors to get his control sorted out.

Instead, Donnie Joseph may have forced his way onto the Royals Opening Day roster. While it is only Spring Training, and Joseph has pitched all of 5.1 innings thus far, he has yet to allow a hit. Although he has walked three batters, Joseph also has nine strikeouts. If he is able to continue that type of production into the regular season, Ned Yost would have a bullpen filled with strikeout artists that he could use to slam the door on the opposition.

While Joseph is not the traditional strikeout pitcher, in that he does not throw a fastball approaching triple digits, he has still been able to generate plenty of strikeouts with his fastball/slider combination. Even though his fastball averages between the mid 80′s to the low 90′s, His low 80′s slider has generated a swing and miss 37.5% of the time thus far in Spring Training. If Joseph is able to keep getting people to miss that slider through the regular season, he could end up being yet another strikeout artist in the Royals bullpen.

Donnie Joseph may have been a longshot to make the Royals bullpen at the start of Spring Training, but he has made the most of his opportunities thus far. If he continues to impress, he could find himself traveling to Detroit with the Royals.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Let’s see; Holland, Davis, Herrera, Collins, Crow, maybe Duffy. That’s six. Room for one more, unless the Escobar/Infante sorenesses force keeping Ciriaco. I like Joseph, a left-handed Coleman, quietly does his job, seems to get no respect. I expect him to be a yo-yo man this year, having option.

  • unclejesse40

    I would love to get everyone’s opinion on the idea that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and how that statement relates to the Royals pitchers. What I mean by that is, does it really matter the way you pitch or what pitches you throw, as long as you have the ability to pitch quality innings and and get guys out? I recently read a scouting report of a young cuban pitcher named Odrisamer Despainge where they said he was basically average across the board, no major heat to speak of but that he used different arm angles and pitch speeds to get guys out. Does that sound like some other Royal that has continued to push himself into the starting rotation? BRUCE CHEN!! I know he doesn’t throw the heat and there’s not really one or two pitches that stand out from anything else he throws but he sounds like a master of disguise. Why not bring in a guy like that to be mentored by the man of mystery himself. Reports are that the guy probably won’t get a million a year because heaven forbid you give an average pitcher any kind of money. I will admit that I don’t know anymore about Despaigne than what I have read from someone else but an approach to pitching that I would be in favor of is letting the winners pitch and the losers figure it out in the minors regardless of how and what they throw.