Kansas City Royals Need to Consider Six-Man Rotation for 2018

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 29: Jake Junis /

The Kansas City Royals aren’t likely to compete in 2018. (Sorry, but it’s true.) With that in mind, it makes a lot of sense for the team to employ a six-man rotation based on injury history alone.

Kansas City Royals pitchers Eric Skoglund and Sam Gaviglio may be duking it out for the sixth spot in the 2018  rotation. The other one may serve as a nice long reliever out of the bullpen.

I don’t know a ton about Gaviglio—except for what I’ve seen from him in his last two starts with Kansas City—but he’s certainly been more impressive than Skoglund. Some people are higher on Skoglund than I am. Maybe I’m wrong, but he’s gonna have to add some velocity or find another way to keep hitters off of his fastball if he’s going to be an effective starter in this league.

Jason Hammel is going to be this team’s lifesaver in the rotation next season. Mark my words.

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Given one full season with the Kansas City Royals under his belt, Hammel ought to be getting comfortable. He’s made at least 29 starts now in each of his past four seasons, and you can pencil him in for another 27-30 starts and approximately 170 innings pitched in 2018.

I think he’ll be much more effective having an entire offseason with a guaranteed rotation spot than he was this season having been signed so late this spring. His current contract will also expire at the end of 2018, so the Kansas City Royals can throw him out there as often as they want without financial repercussions.

So Why a Six-Man Rotation?

The Kansas City Royals currently have seven in-house options to potentially fill next season’s rotation. Three of the seven currently have some form of an injury. Three others were rookies when 2017 began. One is a veteran with an expiring contract.

The typical knock against a six-man rotation is that you’re taking starts away from your ace and giving them to a sixth starter. The problem with this argument for the Kansas City Royals next season is that their ace—Danny Duffy—has a history of injury problems and is locked up through 2021.

The Kansas City Royals won’t compete for the playoffs next year anyways, which makes the long-term plans more important than winning in 2018.

This team has played a lot of baseball since 2014. Using six starters next year would allow the young guys for Kansas City to develop at a more reasonable pace. It would also allow some of the guys with injury histories to potentially avoid the disabled list and pitch all season.

Next: Royals Continue Playoff Push

The Kansas City Royals have the unique opportunity next season to still win 75 games while going through a rebuild. Having Jake Junis, Ian Kennedy, Nate Karns, Duffy and Hammel healthy all season is important for this team to remain competitive. Adding a sixth starter to that rotation will help those five stay healthy and, ultimately, make the Royals better in the long-term.