2018 Royals Season Preview – Ryan Buchter

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 15: Ryan Buchter /

Making his major league debut in 2014 at the age of 27, Ryan Buchter has always been a bit of a late bloomer. After spending the 2015 season in the minor leagues, Buchter impressed with his breakout 2016 season out of the bullpen in San Diego. Acquired in a six-player trade from the Padres in July of 2017, he continued his success with the Royals. What’s in store for the 258-pound lefty this season?

If you haven’t read my Kings of Kauffman season preview for Brandon Maurer, I highly recommend checking it out. Maurer was acquired in last season’s July 24 trade that also included Trevor Cahill and Ryan Buchter coming to Kansas City. Buchter is the subject of today’s article. 2014 was a short-lived MLB season for Buchter, as he appeared in just one game with the Braves: a June contest in Washington against the Nationals. 2016 was a big year for the 30-year-old lefty, who had a 2.86 ERA and struck out 78 batters in 63 innings of work. His first full season in the MLB was a successful one.

What did he offer last season?

Buchter began the season with the Padres, appearing in 42 games for the club in 2017. In those 42 games, he pitched 38.1 innings and struck out a whopping 47 batters. His ERA sat at 3.05, just a bit above his figure from the year prior. Buchter was then shipped to the Kansas City Royals on July 24 along with Cahill and Maurer. Upon arrival in Kansas City, many expected Buchter to continue his dominance. In some aspects, he did. In others, not so much.

The basic statistics are favorable for Buchter during his time with the Royals last year. A 2.67 ERA in 27 innings of work looks great, but the strikeouts were way down. Only striking out 17 batters, Buchter saw his K/9 drop from 11.0 (SD) to 6.0 (KC). This is a something to keep an eye on heading into 2018 but if the ERA remains low, it may not be a huge issue. A FIP of 4.54 indicates a bit of luck but nonetheless, Buchter was good in 2017.

What can we expect in 2018?

Steamer projects a significant regression for Ryan Buchter in 2018:

  • 55 appearances
  • 55 innings pitched
  • 4.45 ERA
  • 55 K

I’m high on Buchter this season. I fully expect him to be one of the most productive relief pitchers on the roster. With that said, that doesn’t necessarily mean replicating his 2017 season. With such a high FIP all year, Buchter may have experienced more than his fair share of luck. It’s hard to do that two years in a row, especially if he’s heavily depended on in 2018.

55 appearances is a bit low, I’ll take the over. The same goes for 55 innings (over). Although an ERA under 3.00 is unlikely, 4.45 is too high for a reliever of Buchter’s caliber. Significantly under 4.45 should be the case at the conclusion of the season. With a career K/9 of 10.0, I’m going to take the over with 55 strikeouts as well.

The verdict

Ryan Buchter may regress a bit after a very solid 2017 season. He’s still going to be a decent reliever, but don’t expect him to be as good as last season, or nearly as great as he was in 2016. Still only 30 years old heading into the season, Buchter is in his prime and should perform as such in 2018. Business as usual for a pitcher who should grade out as one of the better relievers the Royals have this year.

What do you think, Royals fans? Is Buchter due for regression after some good luck in 2017? Is he going to pick up where he left off? Let us know what you have to say!