KC Royals: 3 relievers who may not survive the week

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Richard Lovelady
(Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports) /

A southpaw who just can’t seem to stick with the KC Royals may get cut again.

The days when having a lefthander in the bullpen was mandatory are all but over. The controversial “three-batter rule,” instituted for the first time last season, is seeing to that. Lefties are nice, but not absolutely necessary, bullpen assets to have, even for the KC Royals.

So it is that Richard Lovelady, an eminently successful lefty minor league reliever—he’s 10-8 with a 2.17 ERA and 32 saves in 133 games—may find Kansas City not so great a fit again this year. After struggling as a rookie in 2019 (he was 0-3. 7.65 in 25 appearances scattered over three trips to Kansas City from Triple-A Omaha), he pitched one inning for the Royals last season before spending most of the campaign at the alternate site.

Now, Lovelady, 25 and a five-year professional, is having a good spring. He’s tied for most appearances on the club with seven, and has seven strikeouts in six innings to complement an excellent 0.83 WHIP. His 3.00 ERA is attributable solely to the three runs (two earned) he gave the White Sox Thursday.

Whether he’ll survive roster reduction, though, is questionable, which seems to be the nature of the Lovelady-Royals beast. He had a good 2020 training camp that went for naught after one regular season inning in which he surrendered a hit and a run; the feeling there’s something neither side is saying, or the club won’t for some reason give him a solid chance, is easy to get. So, don’t be surprised if Kansas City sends Lovelady out, with the alternate training site the likely destination.

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Could someone else be moved? Possibly. Ervin Santana’s inconsistency, which seems to plague him from inning to inning, may be his downfall. Opponents have knocked the former Royal around for seven runs in nine innings, but he’s had good control and a few excellent innings. The Royals like veteran pitchers who have a history with the club, so they might choose Santana over Lovelady, at least in the short run. And at some point, Lovelady will probably resurface in Kansas City.

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Final roster cuts are coming and the KC Royals will have to reduce the size of their bullpen. Jake Brentz, Brad Brach and Richard Lovelady may be moved.