Kansas City Royals: 3 candidates for bounce-back seasons in 2020

Brett Phillips, KC Royals (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Brett Phillips, KC Royals (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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Kansas City Royals, Kevin McCarthy
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals might not have to look far for another strong bullpen arm if one of their own can bounce back from a down 2019 season.

For many Kansas City Royals fans, Kevin McCarthy will be a familiar name, though they might not remember hearing about him near as much in the 2019 season. McCarthy found some innings but started the year off incredibly rough.

McCarthy has been with the Royals since 2013, working his way through the minors and started finding major league time in 2016. Though he has spent some time in the minors every season, including a small stint during 2019, he has been able to make some noise when he is pitching at Kauffman.

In 2017, McCarthy had a good year, pitching 45 innings, recording 28 strikeouts and holding an ERA of 3.20. In 2018, McCarthy recorded another good year, solidifying his role in the bullpen, even more, bumping up his innings to 72 with 46 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.25.

McCarthy looked like a sure candidate to continue in the Royals bullpen as a consistent, strong arm. In 2019, though, McCarthy hit a slump. It was as though he was unable to throw strikes. Over 3.2 innings in March and April, McCarthy walked four batters, gave up eight earned runs, and didn’t strike out a single batter.

McCarthy was sent to Omaha to work out his slump in the minors. When he appeared in another major league game in late May, McCarthy lasted 2.0 innings, striking out 1 and giving up no runs. For the month of May, McCarthy recorded 7.0 innings pitched and gave up no runs. June was a similar story, recording 11.1 innings, earning only 3 runs, making is June ERA 2.38.

McCarthy struggled again in July and August, recording 10.2 and 13.1 innings respectively, but having a monthly ERA of over 5.00 for both months. He was able to turn it back on in September though, striking out twelve over 14.1 innings for a September ERA of 2.51.

McCarthy ended the 2019 season with an ERA of 4.48, FIP of 3.96 and pitched 60.1 innings with 38 strikeouts. While 2019 might not have been his best season on record, McCarthy managed to salvage what could have been an entire loss. He continued to show signs of struggling during certain points of the season but was able to provide a somewhat consistent arm in a bullpen that was lacking in most categories.

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McCarthy might not be the next great arm of the Kansas City Royals, but his future outlook is positive. He had to fight for his spot this year, earned it back, and put up decent numbers for a portion of the year. For the 2020 season where the Royals will desperately need to find strong pitchers, McCarthy is an obvious candidate for a bounce-back year and deserves another look by the Royals.