One pitcher saw a change with the KC Royals in 2019 but was able to adapt to the different role and provide a consistency the team desperately needed.
When Ian Kennedy joined the KC Royals, the plan was likely not for him to end up in the bullpen. Kennedy was added to the rotation to bring a long term veteran presence and bulk up the team coming off of World Series win.
Unfortunately for Kennedy, the road was rough. He held an ERA of 3.68 with an 11-11 record in 2016, but only regressed from there. 2017-2018 brought only losing records for the veteran and peaking ERAs, hitting 5.38 in 2017, and climbing back down to the still high 4.66 in 2018.
If the Royals wanted to continue utilizing the once consistent starter, something had to change. In 2019, the decision was made to move Kennedy out of a starting role, and into a bullpen spot. Kennedy started the season out a bit rocky, but eventually worked into his new role and found his new home as a closer.
Once Kennedy was secure in the closing spot, he got to work. He saw a rise in his strikeouts per 9 rate to 10.4, his walks per nine decreased to 2.4 and his ERA settled back down, coming in at 3.41 on the season.
Kennedy had found his role, and on September 16th, Kennedy joined a small class of pitchers when he recorded his 30th save of the season. Kennedy joined Derek Lowe, Dennis Eckersley, and John Smoltz as the only pitchers to record a 20 win season and 30 save season during their careers.
While the plan may not have been for Kennedy to move to the bullpen, he adapted well in a move that gave the Royals some hope and helped them to record some wins.