Kansas City Royals: Fifth starter and long relief options


The top of the Kansas City Royals rotation is set with Brad Keller, Jakob Junis, and Jorge Lopez looking like mortal locks for a spot.

We don’t really know the status of Danny Duffy, and he won’t be needed for the first couple of weeks. If Duffy can’t go for his first scheduled start, the Kansas City Royals are left with Heath Fillmyer and Ian Kennedy to fill out the rotation.

Fillmyer is my guess for the fourth or fifth spot if Duffy arrives on time. He got torched for seven runs in his last outing, but otherwise has looked good. If Duffy needs more time, the Royals may have to rely on Kennedy to fill the gap. The Royals staff don’t seem to have much confidence in him starting right now either. He has only done so twice this spring and pitched just one inning his last time out.

The Royals may still have to give Kennedy an opportunity if anyone else falters or gets hurt. We need a healthy pitching staff. The one thing he has done well most of his career is stay in the lineup. He had some issues in the second half of the season in 2018, but bounced back well enough at the end of the season. I’ve not heard of him having any lingering problems from then.

Homer Bailey is the other option. His first few outings were uninspiring but his last time out he showed much improvement. In four innings, he gave up four hits, one walk, no runs and 2 strikeouts. I liked this signing when it happened. Health issues have limited his success recently, but he was a really good pitcher.

Earlier in his career with the Cincinnati Reds, he was considered a cornerstone of the staff. He is still being paid millions from the contract he signed with them. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a debt swap and they released him as part of an agreement made for him to waive hi no trade clause. The Kansas City Royals only owe him the league minimum. There is no risk to the payroll, so it is worth the chance Bailey could put things together again.

When Bailey was healthy and in his prime he put up big numbers in a ballpark that is not friendly to pitchers. In his best year he threw 209 innings, struck out 199, had a WHIP of 1.12 and an ERA of 3.49. That was six years ago and many injuries since then. At 32, he should still have something left in the tank. If he is finally healthy, there is reason to believe he can be effective. Having a veteran on the otherwise inexperienced staff would be helpful too.

Should Duffy be able to move right into the rotation as scheduled, Bailey and Kennedy will have value as the long relievers. The Royals are going to need someone to soak up innings in case a starter leaves a game early. Having someone who can limit the damage for a few innings would really help. Think Chris Young‘s role on the 2015 team. There is always a chance the club could crawl their way back for a win.

There really isn’t anybody else on the 40 man roster who can fill a sometimes starter sometimes reliever role. Once the Omaha Storm Chasers season gets going, some other options may show themselves. For those player to make the club someone else is going to have to come off the roster. If the past is any indication, the Kansas City Royals won’t make a move like that until May or June.

Next. Jason Adam traded to Blue Jays. dark

If the Royals hope to end the season with a winning record, they need to get off to a decent start.  Pitching will be critical if they have any chance of success. The margin of error is slim to start the season with. A healthy and effective Bailey and or Kennedy would help that effort. They will need the whole staff pitch well and contribute if they want to win games.