With the news that Tim Collins was officially lost for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Brandon Finnegan would make the Kansas City Royals bullpen. After all, the Royals need a lefty reliever, and Finnegan proved to be solid in a relief role last season. He pitched well in the playoffs and was solid against both righties and lefties, albeit in a small sample size. It truly seemed inevitable that Finnegan would be punching his ticket north with the Royals for Opening Day.
However, the Kansas City Royals remain committed to seeing what Finnegan can do as a starter. They are still planning on having him pitch multiple innings during Spring Training, perhaps giving him three innings in relief in the near future. With the possibility still existing that Finnegan could be sent down to Omaha as a starter, the Royals may be looking for yet another answer in the bullpen. That answer may turn out to be Franklin Morales.
Morales would seem like an odd choice. He struggled last season, posting a 6-9 record with a 5.37 ERA and a 1.623 WHiP last year in 38 appearances, 22 of which were starts. Of course, those numbers also come with the caveat of the fact that Morales was in Colorado last season, the place where pitching goes to die.
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However, if there is a team where pitchers can be resurrected and transformed into viable options, it may be the Kansas City Royals. Thus far in Cactus League play, Franklin Morales has performed well, allowing only two hits while striking out five in four innings of work. While it is definitely foolhardy to expect those results going forward, Morales has certainly pitched his way into the Royals bullpen conversation.
If Morales does end up breaking camp with the Kansas City Royals, a bullpen spot may be his best role. Over his career, Morales has performed better as a reliever, even if the numbers are not stellar. In 186 relief appearances, Morales has posted a 4.51 ERA and a 1.481 WHiP, which are definitely not exciting totals.
Yet, there is the chance that he could improve in Kansas City. Franklin Morales, like most of the pitchers that the Royals have targeted over the past few seasons, is a fly ball pitcher, although not to the extremes as some of the others who have been signed. For every two ground balls that Morales has generated, he has given up three fly balls. Given the outfield defense that the Royals have, coupled with the spacious outfield in Kauffman Stadium, Morales could certainly outperform his career totals.
Franklin Morales may not have been the most exciting option for the Kansas City Royals, but he may well prove to be a solid reliever this season. After all, Dave Eiland has worked far greater miracles in the past few years.