Usual suspects: Brad Keller, Jakob Junis
Keller, the KC Royals’ top pitcher over the past couple of seasons, is expected to be more of the same in 2020. FanGraphs is down on him, predicting a 4.74 ERA. Baseball-Reference has it dipping back down below 4.00, though, at 3.95. Check out some of our predictions for the rotation here.
Junis could also be listed under “disappointing findings,” due to his return towards the norm not being quite as large as originally hoped. After posting a rather high 5.24 ERA last season, B-Ref projects a 4.83 ERA this year. FG calls for a 4.78 one.
Pleasant surprise: Jorge Lopez
Lopez was a fan favorite and predicted by many to break through in 2019. The opposite was the case, as he was booted from the rotation during the season and as he approaches his 27th birthday, time is ticking for him to prove himself at the MLB level. Both FG and B-Ref project improvement, but by varying standards.
Disappointing finding: Ian Kennedy
Kennedy excelled as a closer in 2019, posting his best season in a Royals uniform. Holding a 3.41 ERA and recording 30 saves, he even managed to generate some trade buzz. Neither FG nor B-Ref thinks that success will be duplicated, with both projecting ERAs well above 4.00.
The 2020 season is a huge one for the Kansas City Royals. While some players will return to form and perhaps force their way into the future plans of the club, others will fade into the darkness and be waived or traded. In an ideal world, every player on the roster will outperform the projections bestowed upon them. It’s baseball, though, so all we can do is look back on these numbers in several months and assess how accurate they turned out to be.