These rookie KC Royals starting pitchers accomplished a feat that has not been seen in the major leagues since the 2011 season.
KC Royals rookies Brady Singer and Kris Bubic combined for a tremendous season for two first-year players that were teammates. Not since Brandon Beachy and Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves in 2011 had two rookie hurlers from the same team both finished in the top 6 in strikeouts in the major leagues.
In a shortened season, Singer led all rookies by fanning 61 batters. He also tossed the most innings and started more games than any other first-year player. While his record ended up at 4-5, the Royals finished the year 7-5 in games that he started.
The .220 average Singer held batters to was not just good for rookies, he finished 8th overall in the American League in that category. His 1.17 WHIP was 13th best for players in the AL.
Singer also neutralized the opposition running game. Only one stolen base was attempted while he was on the mound – that was unsuccessful and he picked off two batters. Only three other qualifying starting pitchers allowed zero stolen bases all season.
Opposing managers were impressed with Singer during the year:
"“He’s got good stuff. He’s got a quick arm, kind of a slow delivery and all sudden his arm comes real quick and short.” – Ron Gardenhire, Detroit Tigers manager mlive.com"
Bubic certainly held his own punching out 49 hitters while starting two fewer games and throwing 14 fewer frames. Although his record was just 1-6, some of that is due to a lack of run support. He took losses in his two quality starts due to the Kansas City offense sputtering.
The opposition was not squaring him up often either. Only 36.8% of balls hit against were considered hard hit. That was third-best on the team behind Danny Duffy and Kyle Zimmer. Bubic also induced double plays at a 14% rate, four points higher than the major league average.
The end of the year ended very well for Bubic, in his next to the last start he allowed no earned runs and struck out seven:
"“His best yet. It’s one of those indicators of things to come in my mind. No question the best breaking ball he’s had so far. It had late break, it had bite. And that made his changeup all the more better because they had to worry about two other weapons.” – Royals manager Mike Matheny – mlb.com"
A comparable Royals rookie duo having such a good start to their careers would be in 1984 when Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza made their debuts. These two hurlers would secure a place in the Top 10 best pitchers in KC Royals’ history. Although they had losing records in ’84, they combined for an ERA+ of 214. In 2020, Singer and Bubic’s ERA+ was 219. This new duo appears on their way to great things in Kansas City.
When you are able to accomplish something that has not been for a decade it is not hard to see why this tandem of Royals pitching generates excitement for the Kansas City fans.