With news of Nate Karns being a future bullpen arm, the question of who the fifth starter will start to happen. The Kansas City Royals have options, but we will start with two.
Being the fifth starter in a rotation does not come with a lot of pressure. Those are typically your rotation arms that have a 4.50 ERA to 5.00 ERA. What this means is someone young and inexperienced at the MLB level could fill in. This can help provide the Kansas City Royals with an idea of what they have at the starting pitchers spot.
For this article, we are going to focus on two options the Royals seem very high on. One has a limited amount of MLB experience, while the other was acquired with the idea of becoming an MLB pitcher soon.
Option 1: Eric Skoglund
Eric Skoglund is the first guy simply because he is the guy right now. When news broke that Nate Karns was going to the 10-Day DL, Skoglund was called upon to be the fifth starter. In a year where a rebuild is happening, this is the perfect situation for Skoglund.
The 25-year-old lefty was drafted in the third round out of the University of Central Florida in 2014. In 2015 Skoglund jumped into the Royals Top-30, landing as the Royals No. 22 Prospect. That year was cut short by an elbow injury, but he went on to be the No. 22 Prospect in 2016 and the No. 5 Prospect in 2017. Needless to say, Skoglund moved quickly into the limelight of Royals officials.
Last year, Skoglund played apart of the dance of being called up and then reassigned. Skoglund made his presence known in his first MLB start though against the Detroit Tigers. He ended up going 6.1 innings, giving up zero runs and striking out five while walking just one.
Over the next 11.2 innings, a very different pitcher was present. During that time he posted a 15.27 ERA, allowing 19 runs while striking out just nine and walking 11. Therefore, the question is who the real Skoglund is.
Spring Training showed a glimpse into his growth since being called up last year. Over his four games and 10.2 innings, he posted a 3.38 ERA. More impressive was the fact that he struck out 11 batters while walking zero batters. Considering where he was after his MLB debut, those strikeouts to walk numbers are nice to see.
He seemed to have earned his spot as the “next guy up” for the rotation this year. Now it is just a matter of what he does with this chance.
Option 2: Trevor Oaks
Since being drafted in 2014, Oaks did not break the Dodgers top ranks until 2016 when he came in at 28th. Before being traded, Oaks jumped up to 19th within the Dodgers organization and conveniently fell in as the Royals No. 19 Prospect, too.
During his time in Triple-A, Oaks put up impressive numbers. Over his 26 appearances, he has made 25 starts. During that time he posted an impressive 3.37 ERA over 147.0 innings. He also struck out 120 hitters, an average of 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Take that and compare it to his 28 walks, averaging just 1.7 walks per nine innings, and you have a very consistent pitcher. He also averaged nearly six innings per start.
Oaks had a decent Spring Training. When you look at his numbers as a whole they do not look very impressive. He posted a 6.00 ERA over five outings, one start, over nine innings. He also struck out just four batters compared to two walks.
However, if you eliminate his one horrible outing where he surrendered five runs, it looks a bit better. If you do that, he posted a 1.25 ERA, with one run surrendered and four strikeouts to one walk over the 7.2 innings. Not overly impressive, but better to look at.
The Royals also have a feeling that Oaks could break through and be a rotational starter soon, perhaps even this year.
Obviously, Skoglund is going to get his chance to prove what he can provide for the Royals first. However, if the Royals were going to experiment with possible rotation pieces now is the time.
If you recall, the Royals did something similar with Jakob Junis, who is now a stable piece to the rotation. Perhaps the Royals take a chance with Oaks this year just to see what he can do against MLB hitters.
I know that the Royals have more options for the fifth starter than just Skoglund and Oaks. However, these two have had the most noise around them from front office officials. Therefore, it is safe to say that these two will get a chance first, then if they falter they will move on to the next.
What do you think Royals fans? Do you think Oaks will get a chance this year? Will Skoglund hold onto the fifth spot all year? Let us know below!