2018 Royals Season Preview – Kevin McCarthy

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 23: Kevin McCarthy
KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 23: Kevin McCarthy /

The former 16th-round pick debuted in 2016 after performing well in the minor leagues, but didn’t catch many eyes with his performance. After a very solid start to 2017, Kevin McCarthy joined the major league club again. Spending time at both the AAA and MLB levels last season, McCarthy made it clear he belongs in a major league bullpen. The only question is, can he build off what he started last year, or is he due for regression in 2018?

If you haven’t read my Kings of Kauffman season preview for Wily Peralta, I highly suggest doing so. Wily is looking to rebound after struggling immensely in 2017 and couldn’t be in a better position than he is this year with the Royals. Another player who is in a great position to experience success in 2018 is Kevin McCarthy. After nearly four years in the minors, McCarthy made his debut for the Royals in September of the 2016 campaign. A 6.48 ERA in 8.1 innings didn’t exactly turn any heads, but it didn’t close the book for the 25-year-old.

What did he offer last season?

McCarthy was called up a total of four times in 2017. He began the year in AAA, joined the Royals for the beginning of June, then was sent back down. The righty spent nearly the entire month of July with the major league club before heading back to Omaha. One more series of being called up and sent down ensued before McCarthy was recalled for the final time on August 18, spending the rest of the year in the Royals’ bullpen.

In 32 innings of AAA ball, McCarthy posted a 3.09 ERA, a 4.72 FIP and struck out 17 batters. He appeared in 33 games for the Royals in 2017, pitching 45 innings of baseball and ending the season with a 3.20 ERA and 3.98 FIP. Overall, 2017 was a very good year for the young reliever and the only statistic that could be nitpicked is his 27 strikeouts in 45 major league innings. 

What can we expect in 2018?

Here are the Steamer projections for Kevin McCarthy’s 2018 season:

  • 30 appearances
  • 30 innings pitched
  • 4.75 ERA
  • 20 K

Considering McCarthy appeared in 33 games and pitched 45 innings last season, both of those projections seem very low. I’m going to absolutely take the over on both appearances and innings pitched. It’s entirely possible he goes over his 45-inning total from 2017. McCarthy may not be able to replicate his 3.20 ERA in 2018, but he shouldn’t regress all the way to 4.75. That figure is simply too high. I’ll take the under on that one, without a doubt. Although striking batters out isn’t his forte, 27 in 45 innings last year is enough for me to take the over on 20 this year.

The verdict 

Kyle McCarthy experienced a high degree of success in 2017, and 2018 shouldn’t be too different. The 25-year-old pitcher may regress a tad in his second major league season, but it won’t be anything insane. The Royals hit the nail on the head when they drafted McCarthy back in 2013, and the 2018 season should only reinforce that. If the bullpen is successful this season, expect McCarthy to be a big reason why.

What do you think, Royals fans? Can McCarthy build upon what he established last season? Is he due to regress? Can he get even better? Let us know what YOU think!