KC Royals: A trio of last-minute non-tender candidates

(Photo by Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo by Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals, Scott Blewett
(Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) /

A pitcher who got his first shot at the majors last season with the KC Royals could be non-tendered.

Until quite late in the short 2020 season, no one would have faulted Scott Blewett for feeling like a fifth wheel, or an odd man out. He’d been invited to major league spring training three years in a row without making the Opening Day roster, and two 2020 callups to Kansas City hadn’t resulted in a single pitch.

Finally, however, and after summoning him to the big club for the third time, the Royals gave Blewett the opportunity he’d long awaited: manager Mike Matheny handed him the ball to begin the bottom of the sixth inning of a mid-September game against the Brewers. The Royals were behind 9-4, and the low-leverage, “clean” inning start made it the ideal spot for Blewett’s big league debut.

He started by inducing two groundball outs on just four pitches, then gave up two hits before ending his first inning in The Show with a strikeout. Blewett then held the Brewers down in the seventh, giving up a one-out double before retiring the Crew on a harmless infield popup and another strikeout. His work done well, Blewett gave way to Josh Staumont to start the eighth.

His next, and final, appearance of the season came five days later against St. Louis, and wasn’t as good. Although Matheny gave Blewett another low-leverage situation—the Royals led by 11 when he came in to pitch the ninth—and he struck out Paul DeJong and Matt Carpenter, Blewett gave up three hits, two runs and a walk. With the end of the season just two days away, the Royals optioned him to their alternate training site the next day to make room for Richard Lovelady. Curiously, Lovelady didn’t see any action.

Related Story. Does KC give Richard Lovelady enough love?. light

Standing alone, Blewett’s small major league sample shouldn’t determine his Royal future, but six undistinguished seasons in the minors may foretell his fate. Used almost exclusively as a starter at each of his five minor league stops, he’s 33-45 with a troubling 5.00 ERA and has yet to post a full season ERA under 4.00. Those numbers aren’t the foundation for a promising career.

The much anticipated and impending major league debuts of starters like Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar and Jonathan Bowlan, the new but looming presence of Asa Lacy, and the bullpen’s 2020 resurgence, make Blewett an unlikely choice going forward for the rotation or the pen. Don’t be surprised if the Royals decide to spend his salary elsewhere.