Kansas City Royals: The future seems bright with starting pitchers

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 6: Brad Keller #56 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on May 6, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 6: Brad Keller #56 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on May 6, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

With the trade deadline coming up and the Draft over, looking for bright spots come to the forefront. The Kansas City Royals might have a nice bright spot for their future.

The starting pitching has plagued the Kansas City Royals for quite some time. Due to this, the Royals had to get creative and created the new trend of having bullpens that can easily shorten games.

As of right now, the rotation is Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jakob Junis, Jason Hammel, and Brad Keller. While this lineup isn’t always the most consistent, some pieces have a bright future with the Royals.

The big thing fans need to understand is that when I say the rotation has a bright future, I’m not talking this next year. I’m more focused on 2020/2021 because that will be the future of this franchise.

If you were to give it some thought, only a few of the current Royals starters should be on the rotation come 2020/2021. And Duffy isn’t one.

Due to contracts and future trades, we can narrow the list down.

To start, we can come to the conclusion that Hammel won’t be in Kansas City past this year because of his contract. Yes, he has a $12 million mutual option for 2019. But I feel like it’s safe to say the Royals aren’t going to exercise their side of that option.

I also believe that at some point Duffy will be traded. That could be this year, during Winter Meetings, or possibly next year. It just seems like Duffy has a time clock on his time here in Kansas City. Wherever there is smoke, normally there is a fire. Duffy has had a lot of smoke around his name as a possible trade piece for a while now. That makes me believe that his contract will be fulfilled somewhere other than Kansas City in the near future.

Kennedy has gone from a pitcher I’ve backed and supported since coming here to one I’m losing faith in. If he doesn’t begin having average outings I think the Royals will “Omar Infante” the contract. Unfortunately, Kennedy isn’t as cheap of a contract. If Kennedy doesn’t turn it around and become consistent, I believe he will be traded or released before his contract is up after the 2020 season.

Which leads me to the final two.

Both Junis and Keller will be around in 2020/2021, baring something drastic happening. Both are showing extreme promise and are showing the ability to be legitimate big league pitchers.

So who else?

Right now the Royals have a couple guys in-house that they can potentially use. If the trend of growth continues, they might actually have too many guys, which isn’t a bad thing.

Some of the guys they could potentially use are:

  • Scott Barlow (MLB): Six MLB appearances, 3.60 ERA over 15.0 innings. 15 strikeouts/3 walks. Seven minor league appearance (six starts), 3.94 ERA over 32.0 innings. 31 strikeouts/14 walks.
  • Trevor Oaks (AAA): Three MLB appearances (one start), 7.45 ERA over 9.2 innings. 8 strikeouts/2 walks. 10 minor league starts, 2.29 ERA over 59.0 innings. 30 strikeouts/20 walks.
  • Yefri Del Rosario (A): One minor league start, 3.60 ERA over 5.0 innings. 6 strikeouts/1 walk.
  • Elvis Luciano (Rookie): In 2017 – 16 minor league appearances (eight starts), 2.84 ERA over 66.2 innings. 52 strikeouts/18 walks.
  • Josh Staumont (AAA): 20 minor league appearances (three starts), 1.59 ERA over 34.0 innings. 49 strikeouts/20 walks (13.1 innings, 1.37 ERA, 14 strikeouts/2 walks in his three starts)

This list doesn’t include anyone that they have recently drafted, however that list will come shortly.

When you look at the success these guys are having at their respective levels, it is encouraging. But what makes things even more encouraging is the fact that the Royals bolstered their pitching in the Draft.

We have already established that Brady Singer was a steal in the draft, but others could contribute in the near future as well.

Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, and Kris Bubic are the first to come to mind when thinking about future rotation arms. They have a lot of upsides, and because they are college arms they won’t require the same amount of grooming high school pitchers normally would.

  • Brady Singer: 15 starts (12-1 record), 2.30 ERA over 101.2 innings. 107 strikeouts/21 walks
  • Jackson Kowar: 17 starts (9-5 record), 3.21 ERA over 105.2 innings, 102 strikeouts/41 walks
  • Kris Bubic: 15 starts (8-1 record), 2.62 ERA over 86.0 innings, 101 strikeouts/32 walks

The new additions seem to be guys that can contribute to making the Royals into contenders again sooner, rather than later. At least one of these three could be in the future rotation with Junis and Keller if all things go right.

Final Thoughts

A lot of things still have to continue developing in order to have these guys join the future rotation. And when looking at it, the Royals seem to have a lot of options blooming. With the rotation only holding five spots, not all can fit in. Which leads to an interesting choice.

Pitching is always going to be a desired commodity in baseball. Good pitching will boost the player’s value and great pitching exceeds their value. If these players develop the way they can, the Royals could flip some of these guys for future, more MLB ready, pieces.

A lot is to be considered when looking into the future. Are they future players for the Royals or someone else? Could they develop into that elite level pitcher? What kind of trend are they developing at? Could they be the next Wade Davis and be flipped into the bullpen?

Anything can happen. But you have to be optimistic about the fact that the Royals seem to be setting themselves up nicely thanks to the Draft and developing players within the system.

So what do you think Royals fans? Could the future rotation be inside the Royals system already? Are any of these guys going to make it? Let us know below!