Kansas City Royals: 3 candidates for bounce-back seasons in 2020
The Kansas City Royals are in desperate need of pitching, and Mike Montgomery might be able to provide some stability if he can continue to show improvement.
Pitcher Mike Montgomery was acquired by the Kansas City Royals from the Cubs in a July trade for veteran catcher Martin Maldonado. This wasn’t the first time Montgomery had been a member of the Royals organization, as he was drafted by the Royals in 2008.
The trade for Montgomery received mixed reviews with many fans wondering why the Royals didn’t try to trade for younger prospect arms. The Royals, though, were looking for an arm that could help them progress in the rebuild right now, and one that they could possibly keep under club control for a longer period of time.
Montgomery fit what the Royals were looking for, and they welcomed him back with open arms. The Royals needed a starting pitcher, and Montgomery had been vocal with the Cubs that he wanted the chance to start. In Chicago, Montgomery was being used primarily as a relief pitcher and he felt he could do better in a starting role.
In the months he spent with Chicago in 2019, other than the month of May where he posted a 2.38 ERA, Montgomery’s ERA for June, April, and March were all above 7.00. It should be noted, that Montgomery only appeared in two games in April and March each. He struggled at the beginning of the season with an injury and spent time on and off the injured list.
When Montgomery first got to Kansas City, he struggled but did show some promise. In August, Montgomery put up his best numbers, recording an August ERA of 2.45 and going 29.1 innings with 31 strikeouts. He followed up in September, recording an ERA of 5.79 over 23.1 innings pitched with 15 strikeouts.
Montgomery’s stats in previous years have been relatively good, posting ERA’s between 2.52 and 4.60 from 2015-2018 and FIP’s between 3.79 and 4.67. As far as his 2019 numbers go, they are definitely worse than previous years, but when split between Chicago and Kansas City, they seem to tell another story.
In Chicago, Montgomery pitched 27.0 innings, recorded an ERA of 5.67 and a FIP of 6.21, a WHIP of 1.778, his strikeouts per nine innings pitched (SO9) was 6.0 and his strikeouts to walks ratio (SO/W) was 1.38. For Kansas City, the same stats read, 64.0 innings pitched, an ERA of 4.64 and a FIP of 5.23, a WHIP of 1.547, an SO9 of 7.2 and a SO/W of 2.43.
Every single stat for Montogomery got better. Did he impress in every game and strikeout every batter he faced? Absolutely not. There is definitely evidence to suggest, though, that Montgomery was correct in that he would produce better in a starting role.
He obviously was not producing well in the bullpen for the Cubs, but in two months with the Royals, he improved all of his stats on the year by fairly large margins and was able to hold those better numbers over more than double the innings pitched.
Montgomery is another player that could be a risk for the Royals, but if he can continue to improve, he could be an asset on a team with very limited pitching ability at the moment. It is not entirely out of the question to think that with the change of scenery and an extended time as a starting pitcher, Montgomery could prove to be a decent middle of the rotation pitcher for the Kansas City Royals.
There will be players that the Kansas City Royals will move on from during the offseason, but rest assured, there will be plenty of familiar faces when the players report for spring training. There are plenty of internal options that could see a better season in 2020 and if these players are able to produce, the Royals can push forward and be on the upside of the rebuild.