Kansas City Royals: What does the Royals bullpen look like in 2020?

KC Royals, Ian Kennedy (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Ian Kennedy (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals roster is full of holes but the bullpen could be a strength next season. Let’s see who might fill out the roster.

Most major league pitching staffs will carry five starting pitchers and seven relief pitchers for a total of 12 pitchers and 13 position players to round out the 25-man roster. In terms of the Kansas City Royals bullpen, a few players appear to be locks for the bullpen next season but there are certainly some opportunities for others to step up.

It would seem that, even though he comes at a steep price, Ian Kennedy will be the team’s closer next season. Kennedy will be 35 when the 2020 season starts but has collected 27 saves in 31 opportunities. He’s generally been pretty reliable in this role because he’s experienced an increase in the average velocity of his fastball.

As a starter, Kennedy’s fastball was consistently hanging near 91 mph but has jumped up to 95 mph because he can just “grip it and rip it” for lack of a better term.

Scott Barlow would appear to be the team’s setup man next season, collecting 12 holds in 14 attempts. In 60.2 innings of work this season, Barlow has a 12.02 K/9, 4.60 ERA (but 3.61 FIP) and has struck out 81 batters.

I would love for Jesse Hahn to become an effective relief pitcher. He’s made just one appearance in the Royals bullpen after missing nearly two seasons of baseball. He lit up the radar gun for 97 mph and looked really sharp. We’ll keep on eye on him the rest of this season.

Tim Hill has been extremely hit-or-miss this season. He’s made 34 appearances and tossed 28.2 innings while allowing 13 earned runs in those outings with 11 walks but struck out 24 batters.

Jorge Lopez was moved to the rotation after Homer Bailey was traded to the Athletics and could potentially be moved back to the pen in 2020. He turned in a really good start on Friday and hopefully that’s a sign of him getting on the right track.

The one notion that has been picking up some steam is Danny Duffy moving to the bullpen in 2020 in an attempt to help keep him healthy. Duffy will be 31 next season and is on track to make his fewest number of starts since the 2013 season. I don’t necessarily disagree with it but obviously Dayton Moore will have to find someone, or a couple of someones, to fill out the rotation.

So right now, we have Kennedy, Barlow, Hahn, Hill, and potentially Lopez as bullpen arms next season. Other guys that could be up for consideration include Jake Newberry, Richard Lovelady, Josh Staumont, Heath Fillmyer, Kyle Zimmer, Eric Skoglund, and Jacob Barnes but none of them have exactly impressed.

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The Royals front office might find themselves in the free-agent market looking to bolster their bullpen, but again, it all depends on what new owner John Sherman wants to do in his first season. We’ll have free-agent bullpen arms on our list of offseason analysis.