The Kansas City Royals have been busy lately. Most recently, Jason Hammel’s demotion to the bullpen. This moves signals more than just a struggling pitcher being moved, though.
When the news broke that Jason Hammel was no longer going to be a starter, no one was really upset. Hammel has been struggling as a starter since joining the Kansas City Royals in 2017. In fact, the last time he posted numbers as bad as he has in Kansas City, he was a 23 and 24-year-old pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2006 and 2007.
When the Royals signed Hammel, I’m sure they were hoping for a pitcher similar to what he was from 2012-2016. During that time, he posted a 3.88 ERA over 137 games (133 starts) and 771.0 innings. He had an 8.0 SO/9, a 2.6 BB/9, and a 3.01:1 K/BB ratio. In fact, from 2013-2016 Hammel was even better, posting a 3.68 ERA over 91 games (90 starts) and 513.2 innings, as well as an 8,3 SO/9, a 2.4 BB/9, and a 3.46:1 K/BB ratio.
Unfortunately, the Royals aren’t getting anything close to this type of production. During his time with the Royals, he has posted a 5.60 ERA over 50 starts and 282.2 innings. He has a significantly worse 6.7 SO/9, but a similar 2.5 BB/9. His 2.67:1 K/BB ratio is also less than impressive.
Taking all of this into consideration, as well as the fact that he will be a free agent at the end of the year, the Royals had to make a change.
Sending Hammel to the bullpen
After his struggles continued in his last outing against Boston, Hammel seemed to have lost all confidence in his abilities. Rustin Dodd of The Atlantic wrote an article where he was reported saying, “I’m just bashing my head against the wall” and “I’m throwing more angry balls right now than actual pitches. I’ve kind of become a thrower instead of a pitcher due to just frustration.”
To me, that shows that the metal side of baseball is beating Hammel up. Which could very well be the reason he is being sent to the bullpen. They can’t trade him, and they don’t seem to want to release him either. Therefore, finding him a new spot to help the team seems necessary, and the bullpen might be that spot.
Hammel has a Mutual Option for $12 million next year, with a $2 million buy-out. I feel pretty confident that Hammel is going to cost the Royals $2 million and he will be donning a different uniform in 2019.
Making this move will give the Royals a chance to see what Rule-5 pick Burch Smith can do as a starter. Ned Yost sees Smith as more of a starter based off his mentality and his routine for getting ready. While this move may not result in the Royals winning more games, it does show that the Royals are taking additional steps forward in their rebuild. Which should make fans happy.
Hammel’s time in Kansas City isn’t going to be what we all hoped for. I know I was excited when the Royals signed him because of what he had done recently. Unfortunately, Hammel was the exact opposite of what we had all hoped for.
So what do you think Royals fans? Will moving Hammel to the bullpen change anything? Is this a lack of production or a Royals rebuild move? Let us know below!