Opening Day is less than three weeks away, but the KC Royals and manager Mike Matheny aren’t in a rush to name the team’s No. 5 starter.
As KC Royals spring training continues full speed ahead and Opening Day gets closer and closer, most would think that major decisions are looming. While that’s true, the team’s fifth starting pitcher is not one of those decisions that need to be immediately made.
In an article by MLB.com’s Royals reporter Jeffrey Flanagan, he touched on some of the potential avenues the Royals could go down. To this point, right-hander Jorge Lopez has been a popular name thrown in the hat of guys who might take that spot. Another player gaining steam? Youngster Brady Singer:
“Singer, who has pitched well in three of his four spring outings, could stay in extended Spring Training until the Royals would need him in April, if the Royals choose to go in that direction and seriously consider him an option at No. 5.” -Flanagan
The fact that Singer has yet to be sent to minor league camp and/or reassigned to Double-A or Triple-A speaks to how much the Royals still want to see him against MLB hitters. I did a prospect rewind on Singer in late December, alluding to the fact that a debut this year was likely:
“There have been rumblings that Singer could be given an opportunity to compete during spring training and possibly even make the Opening Day roster. While that’s far from a lock, it’s a testament to how advanced he is for his age. College pitchers naturally spend less time in the minors than high school prospects, so it would make sense for a polished arm like Singer’s to debut at some point during the 2020 campaign.”
Not only did Singer receive the opportunity in spring training, but the possibility of him either making the Opening Day roster or being called up shortly thereafter seems to be an increasing possibility. He’s clearly too advanced for AA and most top prospects’ AAA stints are simply tune-ups before they hit the bigs.
One additional option the Royals have: using an opener. This is something the club hasn’t experimented much with in the past but with Matheny leaving no stone left unturned, perhaps the final starter in the rotation could simply set the tone and allow others to finish the game. It would be a unique sight for fans of the team.
Regardless of what the KC Royals and their staff choose to do with the No. 5 pitcher spot, it’ll be one of the top storylines to watch for. About a month from now would make sense for Singer to be promoted (assuming he will be). If it isn’t Singer, it’ll be a battle of the internal candidates already on the roster.
The rotation has been a sore spot in recent years. It’s nice to have multiple players competing for one place on the depth chart, though, and that competition could signal where the Royals are headed in 2020.