Jorge Lopez to start Cactus League opener for KC Royals

KC Royals, Jorge Lopez (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Jorge Lopez (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals are starting to get their lineups in order to prepare for spring training games. Fans will likely see positional battles start up early.

Now that spring training is really kicking off, fans will likely be able to see regular updates about the KC Royals and the many players who are in Arizona this year. Spring training games are set to begin soon for all teams across the MLB and the Royals seem to be figuring out their lineups in preparation for this weekend’s coming games.

This Friday, February 21 at 2:05 p.m., the Royals and the Rangers will kick things off to officially get baseball started for KC Royals fans. Jeffrey Flanagan released the names of a few of the upcoming starters for this weekends round of games:

Most are likely not surprised to see Brad Keller on the list of starters, but Jorge Lopez and Scott Blewett may come as a surprise to some.

With Lopez and Blewett up first, does this mean these two could be fighting for the fifth rotation spot during the regular season? While this could definitely be the case, this could also just be how the roster worked out or even a test to see if either of these players could become an opener.

Keller is in a lockdown spot in the rotation so there is really no question about him starting a game. He has proven himself and there has really been no question about whether or not he would be back in the rotation for 2020.

Scott Blewett is one of the many minor league arms looking to finally stake his claim this year. Unfortunately, he has failed to produce in high-level minor league ball. In 2019, he carried a decent 3.55 ERA over 5 starts in AA with Northwest Arkansas but saw that ERA spike to 8.52 in AAA Omaha over 18 games and 16 starts.

While it’s unlikely he will work his way into the 5th rotation spot with all of the other competition this year, he could be a candidate to open games. The Royals haven’t used openers in the past, but the idea hasn’t been completely shut down. Blewett has a history of starting games in the minors, and while he may not be major league ready, he may be ready to open at some point during the season.

The biggest question in this announcement though may surround Jorge Lopez. It has been thought that Lopez would assume a full-time bullpen role going into 2020, allowing him to focus on fewer innings, but also be used as a long reliever as needed.

With Lopez starting the opener, the Royals could still be looking at him to fill a rotation spot if needed. Lopez has shown good stuff in the past, but his inconsistent control usually gets him into trouble.

The start will likely only be two or three innings as with a majority of spring training games, so the sample size won’t be large, but it could help the team confirm if they want to continue Lopez on a bullpen only path, or keep an open mind.

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Spring training games are right around the corner and soon the regular season will be starting. Are there any players you are looking forward to seeing in spring training that could make the opening day lineup?