The KC Royals have no lack of pitching in the minor leagues and if some major leaguers want to keep their spot, they will have to prove their worth.
There is still no set word on what the 2020 season will look like for the KC Royals and the rest of baseball. There are plenty of ideas or rumors, but at the moment, it looks like fans may at least get a shortened season. While this is still good for players and those who love baseball, the shortened season could cause some stress for certain players.
One of these players is Jorge Lopez. Lopez has been an up and down pitcher since coming to the Royals in a July 2018 trade along with Brett Phillips that saw Mike Moustakas off to Milwaukee.
Lopez has had moments of greatness and flashed his skills both from the bullpen and in starting games, like taking a perfect game into the 9th inning in 2018. He may not have been able to finish, but it takes skill to get a perfect game that far.
Unfortunately for Lopez, inconsistency finds a way to take over. After a good outing or two, or a few good innings, batters seem to get the better of him and hit with ease.
In his past two seasons with the Royals, Lopez held an ERA of 6.35 over 34 innings in 2018, and 6.33 over 123.2 innings in 2019. His 2018 season with Kansas City consisted of exclusively starts, while 2019 saw him helping as needed, starting, relieving, and even getting a save.
Now, Lopez is in a critical season for his career, and the fact that it has been delayed and could be shortened doesn’t do anything to help.
Lopez doesn’t have a great amount of service time. He saw a few major league innings in 2015, and then gradually more from 2017-2019. A bulk of his career though has been in the minor leagues, where he also seemed to struggle at times.
Lopez spent his entire season in Kansas City during the 2019 season, but that’s not likely all due to his performance as he continued to be inconsistent. According to FanGraphs, Lopez is also out of options.
This fact alone makes success for Lopez in 2020 even more crucial. The Royals are looking towards the future and as far as pitching goes, and their future is currently moving its way through the minor leagues.
There may still be some time before a few of these young arms are ready for the majors, but it won’t be long. Pitchers like Lopez have to prove they have what it takes to stick around for the long haul. With no options and constant inconsistencies, Lopez may fall behind in the battle for a spot.
In what will likely be a shortened season, Lopez will have to quickly find command of his pitches and prove that he is finally ready to hold a spot in the majors.
Lopez has what it takes to be a good pitcher, but can’t seem to find his place. His ability to move back and forth between starting and relieving is good for the team, but may be part of what is ultimately hindering him. 2020 will hopefully bring answers for his future.