KC Royals: Rookie’s night 1 to remember, 1 to forget

Like every big league ballplayer, the KC Royals’ Jackson Kowar will never forget making his major league debut Monday night.

But aside from the magnitude of the event, Kowar’s actual performance was, and will remain, forgettable.

In a word, his first big league game, a start against the Angels, was grim—Kansas City’s No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline was gone before the first inning ended. Manager Mike Matheny, an excellent catcher and handler of hurlers in his day who needs no lessons about pitcher psyche, wisely removed Kowar before the night became a disaster.

Kowar’s first moment was his best—he retired the first batter he faced. But before Matheny turned the game over to veteran Ervin Santana with two outs in the inning, Kowar threw three wild pitches, gave up four runs on three hits, walked two, and didn’t strike out any Angel. His short night’s work, conspicuously marked by lacks of control and command, bore no resemblance to the 5-0, 0.85 ERA, 11.7 SO9 Triple-A performance that earned him his first trip to the majors.

There are no grounds to panic, or for undue criticism of Kowar, not on the basis of one outing and considering his talent and potential. His debut isn’t predictive of what he’ll likely do before long, and that’s pitch well for a Kansas City club in serious need of good starts from a shaky rotation.

Instead, write Kowar’s Monday night effort off to rookie jitters, and that’s all.

Unfortunately, his first inning set the tone for the rest of the evening and afforded Los Angeles all it needed to beat the Royals 8-3 and drop them back to .500. Three games above that mark only Friday, KC is now 6.5 games behind the White Sox in the American League Central.

Fortunately, there were some bright spots for the KC Royals Monday night.

Kowar’s debut was certainly disappointing, but a few good things happened against the Angels.

Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler, both stalled in long slumps coming into the first game of this seven-contest West Coast swing through LA and Oakland, looked good. Dozier went 3-for-4 and drove in a run; Soler hit his fifth home run of the season, a 427-foot shot off Angel starter Dylan Bundy in the second. He finished 1-for-3 with an RBI.

And Wade Davis, coming off a discouraging performance against Minnesota Friday night that further calls his Kansas City future into question, held LA scoreless and struck out one in his 2.1 innings.

The KC Royals battle Los Angeles again tonight. Slated to start on the mound are Kris Bubic (1-0, 2.12) for Kansas City and Andrew Heaney (3-3, 4.76) for the Angels. Game time is set for 8:38 p.m. CDT.