This is the first of many Kings of Kauffman player season previews. The 2018 bullpen figures to be quite a bit different from what Royals fans have seen recently. A glimpse into the future is going to come sooner rather than later. Andres Machado struggled in little playing time last season – what will his 2018 season look like?
The starting rotation for the Kansas City Royals in 2018 is nearly set… for now. The majority of the young pitching talent that the club will get a look at this year will reside in the bullpen. As some old faces have departed and new ones arrived, it’s time for a youth movement. With that said, some of you may remember a kid from September. He stood six feet tall and looked like he weighed no more than 175 pounds soaking wet. The righty got called up the first week in September and appeared in two games that same week. That young man is… Andres Machado.
What did he offer last season?
Machado moved quickly through the Royals’ Minor League system last year. In just over 73 innings of work in High-A ball, Machado posted a mediocre 5.03 ERA, but with a promising 3.51 FIP. Nine of the 21 games he appeared in were starts. After appearing in just one AA game, the Royals sent him to AAA. Machado excelled in seven starts there, posting a 3.63 ERA and racking up 38 strikeouts in just 34.2 innings. In an article written just after Machado’s call-up, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star got this quote from Ned Yost about the young pitcher:
"“Dayton has been telling me about him for about month. It just got to the point where we were going to protect him (put him on the 40-man roster) anyway this winter.”"
It was evident that both Dayton Moore and Ned Yost were excited to see what Andres Machado had to offer, giving him a chance to show them in early September. Machado appeared in two games, giving up two home runs in his first appearance and six total runs in his second. His ERA sat at an inflated 22.09 after 3.2 innings of work.
What can we expect in 2018?
Steamer currently projects Machado to appear in 15 games this season for the Royals, contributing 15 innings of work with a 4.60 ERA. His strikeouts/9 innings average in AAA last year was great (9.87) and projects to sit at a respectable 7.47 figure this year at the MLB level. Using his stats from two major league appearances is too small of a sample size, but it still isn’t smart to expect Machado to perform how he did in Omaha. 15 appearances for Machado seems about right but could be higher due to the potential turnover of the bullpen. I’m going to take the even on the 4.60 ERA. I’ll say over 7.47 K/9, but not by much.
Andres Machado didn’t catch too many eyes in 2017. He didn’t wow anyone in A+, but definitely turned some heads with his performance in AAA. Dayton Moore and Ned Yost thought highly enough of him to add him to the 40-man roster in September. Although Machado struggled at the major league level last season, I expect him to be a steady contributor in 2018. Hopefully, an offseason of training and maturing did some good for him. With many bullpen spots up for grabs, it’s up to Andres to grab his as soon as possible.