The KC Royals still have some decisions to make regarding multiple positions, but with an expanded roster, some versatility on the mound is available.
For KC Royals fans, the thought of what the team will do concerning pitchers is likely constant from year to year. Pitching has been a consistent struggle during the past few seasons and is something that has plagued the Royals for years past.
It has been assumed the Royals will continue this season with pitchers Brad Keller, Danny Duffy, Jakob Junis, and Mike Montgomery in the starting rotation, but as far as a 5th pitcher, only rumors and theories have been thrown around. Now that Brad Keller has tested positive for COVID-19, the rotation could see even more of a changeup.
As the season gets closer and closer, the odds of prospect Brady Singer making the cut for the 5th man in the rotation look better, but there is still much to be determined. The Royals have to consider factors like service time and experience in determining if they want to start Singer in this short season or give him one more year to grow.
What may affect the Royals decision this year is the expanded roster. I recently covered an article that discussed the team switching up roles in the bullpen to try and find where everyone fits best, and the rotation could start to move in this direction if needed as well.
While the Royals haven’t employed an “opener” in the past, if there is any year to try it, 2020 will be the year. Mike Matheny wants to try some unconventional roles in the bullpen, so why not throw some things around for the starters and see how they stick.
Now that Keller could be out for even a short duration of time, if Singer was destined to be the 5th man, there could be another spot to fill for at least a little while. Enter pitchers like Jorge Lopez and Glenn Sparkman.
Both of these guys are discussed typically when thinking of the bullpen and were thrown into the mix of players that may see different roles this year. While much of their time will likely come in relief, these two are top candidates to see start out of necessity, and possibly pitch one after the other, pitching only a few innings each.
Both Lopez and Sparkman have shown they can pitch multiple innings when needed, though their consistency typically removes itself from the picture rather quickly. It’s unlikely either of them will become a mainstay in the rotation, but if an opener is used, or someone is needed to cover for a few innings before relief takes over, look for these two names.
The Royals pitching staff could be a whirlwind for 2020, but Matheny feels that the shortened season provides them a good chance to experiment and more closely review the roles that everyone is playing. To fans, things may look similar, but always be ready for a changeup.
Royals fans may see some differences on the mound this year, but in a shortened season, it’s not all that surprising. It’s time the team that has struggled with pitching starts to experiment and find out what doesn’t work, and exactly what does.