The KC Royals will try 24-year-old reliever Matt Strahm as a starter next spring before the 2017 season. The club views his long-term future as a starting pitcher in major-league baseball.
Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore revealed his intentions with respect to Strahm to Kansas City Star reporter Rustin Dodd on Wednesday:
"“You need to develop starters,” Moore told The Star on Wednesday."
"“I’ll just pitch where they need me to pitch,” Strahm said. “I like them both, so whichever one they see me helping the club with more.”"
KC Royals manager Ned Yost, however, won’t try to use Strahm in a starting role this season despite his dominating 0.96 ERA in 9.1 innings pitched with 17 strikeouts so far in 2016. That stat line is good for an overwhelming 16.4 K/9.
Yost explained his reasoning to the Kansas City Star this way:
"“It’s more usage than it is innings,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It’s not the innings. It’s just making sure we don’t overwork him.“He hasn’t gone back to back all year in the minors leagues. With him being a starter, we’re just being extra cautious.”"
Strahm has already pitched more total innings in 2016 than he did in 2015 with 111.2 inning pitched between NW Arkansas and Kansas City. Strahm only itched 68.0 innings in 2015 after throwing only 19.1 innings in 2014 after missing 2013 due to Tommy John surgery.
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Matt Strahm has dominated as a lefty reliever for the KC Royals this season. Touching 96 mph as a reliever, he pairs his heater with a tight curve to keep hitters off balance. However, he spent most of the season developing his change-up at NW Arkansas since he expects to need a third pitch to survive as a starter at the major-league level.
Strahm is unlikely to miss bats as a starter like he does as a reliever. As a starter NW Arkansas, Strahm compiled a 3-8 record, with a 3.43 ERA and 9.4 K/9 against AA hitters. However, he’s unlikely to continue blowing away major-league players if he moves to the rotation.
Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura, and Ian Kennedy are virtual locks to headline the Kansas City Royals rotation in 2017, barring injury. That leaves two spots open at the bottom of the rotation. Strahm figures to be part of a mix that includes Jason Vargas and Mike Minor to contest for the no. 4 and no. 5 jobs in the KC Royals rotation. Dayton Moore is likely to acquire more staring options this winter, because six potential starters simply isn’t enough depth to withstand injuries.
Kansas City Royals fans can only hope that Matt Strahm is 1/2 as dominant as a starter as he’s been as a reliever in 2016.