Third-year pitching coach Cal Eldred and two other KC Royals coaches oversee the club’s pitchers.
The KC Royals pitching staff has been in various stages of non-performing disarray since the club entered its disappointing post-2015 World Series era. Searching for solutions and a new direction in 2018, the club replaced Dave Eiland, who oversaw the hurlers as the Royals returned to contention in 2013, won the AL Pennant in ’14 and then took the World Series in ’15, with Cal Eldred.
Eldred’s appointment was notable–although he pitched 14 seasons in the big leagues, the closest he’d come to coaching at any professional level was the short time he served as a special assistant with St. Louis, a job involving working with the organization’s minor leaguers.
Unfortunately, Kansas City pitchers haven’t improved significantly (if they’ve improved at all) under Eldred: their ERA in his first season was 4.94, worse than their 4.61 in Eiland’s last campaign, and it ballooned to 5.20 last season. And they’re walking almost a half batter more per nine inings than they were when Eiland left.
Time will tell whether Eldred’s staff improves when baseball resumes. The club has high-caliber young pitchers on the cusp of big league readiness and his two years mentoring the Royals may mean Eldred isn’t the right coach for the newcomers’ time. And he may not be the best choice for the current staff.
Unlike Eldred, first-year bullpen coach Larry Carter comes to the KC Royals with considerable experience coaching pitchers. He’s been a minor league pitching coach or pitching coordinator in the Royals organization for over 20 years, was the Texas League Coach of the Year in 2008 and won the club’s 2014 Dick Howser Player Development Person of the Year award. This will be Carter’s first major league coaching job.
Carter made his first major league pitching appearance count–he gave up a run on only four hits in a seven-inning start to propel his Mets past the Yankees in 1992. It was his only big league win; he started (and lost) five more times that season, then never pitched in the big leagues again.
This will be Ryan Eigsti’s fourth season as Kansas City’s bullpen catcher. A 15th round draft pick of the Royals in 2007, he caught in the club’s minor league system for six seasons, hitting 18 home runs and batting .211. He started coaching in 2014.