2020 KC Royals season preview: Kevin McCarthy

KC Royals, Kevin McCarthy (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Kevin McCarthy (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals reliever got off to a rocky start at the beginning of 2019 but was able to turn things around to end the year on a better note.

Welcome back to the Kings of Kauffman 2020 KC Royals season previews. We are working our way through 30 different Royals that fans will likely see during the 2020 season. We will take a look at their previous seasons, some expectations for 2020, and any other pertinent information. This time, we are looking at Kevin McCarthy.

What did he offer last season?

Coming into the 2019 season, McCarthy was expected to be one of the strong, reliable bullpen arms for the Royals to lean on. Unfortunately, 2019 had different plans for McCarthy and he got off to a rough start. Struggling to throw strikes and keep teams from scoring, McCarthy was sent down to the minors for a reset.

Luckily, McCarthy figured it out, and though he wasn’t as productive as his good 2018 season, he finished the year with 60.1 innings pitched and an ERA of 4.48. His strikeout rate hovered just under 6, which is typical for McCarthy who relies more on keeping the ball on the ground, but his walks jumped above 3.

Still, McCarthy overcame the struggles and provided some good innings for the Royals. He will definitely receive another look by the Royals and will likely be a front runner for a bullpen spot.

What should we expect in 2020?

Here are the stat line projects for McCarthy’s 2020 season from both Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs:

B-Ref: 62.0 IP, 4.21 ERA, 50 K, 21 BB

FG: 55 IP, 4.50 ERA, 35 K, 20 BB

There is a good deal of consistency between the two sets of predictions. Both obviously feel that McCarthy will again play a fairly large role in the bullpen, pulling over 50 innings, and both see his ERA hovering around where it was in 2019, with Baseball-Reference being a bit more generous.

Baseball-Reference also thinks McCarthy will figure out the strikeout for 2020, raising his strikeout ratio. FanGraphs is likely more on board with the strikeouts. Unfortunately, both sets of predictions continue to see a higher rate of walks than McCarthy has seen in the seasons prior to 2019. While it’s still not as high as some, the Royals have an issue with walks, and it tends to be their downfall.

The Verdict

McCarthy had a great 2018 season with the Royals. He kept his walks low, managed 72.0 innings, and held his ERA at 3.25. This almost mirrored his 2017 season as well. Had McCarthy not gotten off to a poor start in 2019, it’s likely he would have again put up similar numbers.

McCarthy looks like he is in line for a bounce back. He figured out the issue last season and has now had an offseason to work on any remaining issues and build his confidence back up before spring training starts.

The Royals know McCarthy and know that he has the stuff to be a reliable reliever. Going into the 2020 season at age 28, this may be his year to prove himself and gain a longer-term contract as arbitration is in the near future.

There is no better time than this season for McCarthy to capitalize and bounce back to prove that he can continue to be a strong arm for the bullpen to go to, and the Royals need pitchers like him to prove their worth. McCarthy will be one to keep an eye on in spring training and he will likely be a mainstay in the Royals bullpen for the 2020 season.

Next. 2020 KC Royals season preview: Josh Staumont. dark

Pitchers like McCarthy are incredibly important to the Royals. After two seasons of struggling pitchers, those few that have shined bright will have the spotlight on them to perform as the Royals try to revamp the bullpen, and turn this team around to get back on the winning side of things.