Five Royals Storylines to Watch for in 2018

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 03: Manager Ned Yost
KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 03: Manager Ned Yost /
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Nathan Karns
ARLINGTON, TX – APRIL 21: Manager Ned Yost /

The Health of the Starting Rotation

If the season started today, the Royals’ starting rotation would likely be Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Nathan Karns and Jakob Junis. There are a couple players who could spot-start for the team (Wily Peralta, Jesse Hahn) but overall, the aforementioned five pitchers should begin the season in the rotation. Junis and Hammel come with clean bills of health these past few years, but that isn’t the case for their fellow starters:

  • Danny Duffy:
    • Although he was following up a season in which he pitched nearly 180 innings, Duffy still brought a bit of an injury risk along with him. Last season, he suffered an oblique strain and pronator strain at separate points in the year. In October, he underwent surgery to remove loose bodies in his pitching elbow. According to Duffy, he had considered the surgery before, but it was nothing serious enough to require him to do so. At the age of 29, this is the perfect time for Duffy to put together an injury-free season.
  • Ian Kennedy:
    • Fully recovered from a hamstring injury that occurred early in the 2017 season. Kennedy was still able to make 30 starts, but the injury may have lingered and limited his effectiveness throughout the year. He’s not much of an injury risk, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind.
  • Nathan Karns:
    • One of the biggest storylines surrounding the Royals this season is Karns. He has pitched 100+ innings in a season just once. Coming off thoracic outlet syndrome surgery early last season. Although he’s a huge injury risk, the Royals expect him to be ready for Spring Training and for a full 2018 season.