KC Royals: Jake Newberry needs consistency in the majors

KC Royals, Jake Newberry (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Jake Newberry (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals have plenty of pitchers, but this righty needs some consistent time in the majors.

Between now and Opening Day, the Kings of Kauffman writers are analyzing how various KC Royals performed last season and predicting how they might fare this year. Up today is reliever Jake Newberry. 

When it comes to the KC Royals pitchers, it may be hard to keep track. There are a large number of prospects now, and with some additions over the past couple of seasons, the group as a whole is growing all the time.

One young pitcher that fans likely know by now is Jake Newberry. Newberry has seen some time in the majors in each season since 2018. While some fans may have good memories of shutout pitching, others may remember the opposite. That’s because inconsistency surrounds Newberry and his time at the major league level.

Newberry was drafted by the Royals in 2012 and has remained in the organization since. He worked his way to Triple-A by 2017 and in 2018 was given a chance in the majors. In 13.1 innings, he gave up 7 earned runs, walked 9, and held an ERA of 4.73 and FIP of 6.46.

2019 was better for Newberry. While he still spent his time split between the majors and Triple-A, over 31.1 innings, he held an ERA of 3.77, and while his FIP wasn’t great, it dropped to 5.92.

Newberry again got his shot in 2020, but saw his ERA jump a bit to 4.09 over 22.0 innings, while his FIP dropped again to 4.69.

Newberry is an interesting case, but looking deeper into his numbers shows that his biggest issue is consistency. Part of this is seen through his games and month to month. Looking back through his major league innings, he will have a month or two of outstanding pitching, which was preceded and followed by months of poor pitching and giving up runs.

Another issue for Newberry, and one he cannot control, is that his time on the mound is also inconsistent. Looking through his transaction history shows that Newberry is often shuffled back and forth from Omaha  (or the alternate site) to Kansas City.

While that doesn’t give Newberry a complete pass, it could be a partial reason as to why he struggles to adapt to major league hitters. Luckily for Newberry, he still has some time and may finally get his chance to pitch consistently.

Baseball Reference and FanGraphs projections for Jake Newberry’s 2021 season

Both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs have fairly similar projections for Newberry and look consistent with many of his past numbers. Baseball Reference has him pitching 58.0 innings with an ERA of 4.34, a BB/9 of 4.0, and SO/9 of 9.2.

Fangraphs has Newberry pitching 36.0 innings with an ERA of 4.79, a BB/9 of 4.51, and SO/9 of 8.14.

What will the 2021 season actually look like for Jake Newberry?

The numbers above are fairly safe if wanting to project Newberry’s season. He has struggled with walks in the majors and his SO/9 projections fall right in line with past seasons. The biggest question may be how much the Royals will utilize him.

Newberry has some options, so seeing him start the season in the minors or end up there at some point is not out of the question. The Royals obviously haven’t been afraid to send him down and bring him up in the past.

One thing that Newberry has shown during his time in the majors is an improved FIP every season. While he still needs some work in preventing walks, he did see a big decrease in home runs allowed during the 2020 season.

He could easily flatten out where he is now but if he can continue to improve on his FIP, his ERA will follow and start to trickle down as well.

To see this, though, he simply needs time on the mound. Newberry is a pitcher that fans will see in the majors during the 2021 season, the question is just how much. The Royals have turned to him multiple times in the past couple of seasons. While he has had his struggles, he has also provided good innings and shown a glimpse of what he can really do.

Newberry’s season could be another filled with ups and downs, both on the mound and from the majors to the minors. If he does well through the rest of spring training, though, he could easily find himself in Kansas City for opening day.

Next. KC Royals: Kris Bubic is building a case against himself. dark

Jake Newberry has bounced around for the past few seasons. Hopefully, 2021 will be the season he gets consistent time in the majors so the Royals can really see what he can do.