Former KC Royals finding tough times in Baltimore

(Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals
(Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

A pair of former KC Royals pitchers are having miserable Baltimore seasons.

How bad are the Baltimore Orioles? Their 2021 record is better than only the Arizona Diamondbacks. They’re hopelessly mired in the AL East cellar, 26 games behind Boston and 18 behind the fourth-place Yankees.

And they have two starting pitchers who remain in the rotation despite their combined 5-22 record. Both used to pitch for the Royals.

Because Matt Harvey’s Kansas City stay was so brief—he was a Royal only for last season’s pandemic-shortened campaign—the Baltimore trials and tribulations of Jorge Lopez probably disappoint KC fans more than Harvey’s.

Lopez excited those fans and was fun to watch. The times writers and broadcasters described his stuff as “electrifying” are too numerous to count. And he thrilled baseball with a near-perfect game against Minnesota in 2018, missing it only when he allowed a walk and single to the Twins’ first two hitters in the ninth. It was the best of Lopez.

Unfortunately, too much of Lopez’s pitching wasn’t his best, or even close to it. Plagued by inconsistency, he drifted from the rotation to the bullpen and back, and never really fit in either place. Lopez pitched only once for KC last season, giving up two runs in two-thirds of an inning in the club’s third game, and found himself designated for assignment several days later.

Baltimore claimed him on waivers and he went 2-2 with a 6.69 ERA the rest of the way.

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This season is a disaster for Lopez. He’s 2-12 in 18 starts; his ERA is 5.95. Opponents are hitting .295 against him and he’s hit six batters.

Will the KC Royals face Lopez this weekend? Maybe. Keegan Akin is slated to pitch for Baltimore tonight, but the Orioles hadn’t named their Game 2 and 3 starters as of late Thursday night. And Lopez has been on the Bereavement List since Wednesday.

Like former KC Royals teammate Lopez, Matt Harvey is struggling this year.

The best memory Kansas City fans probably have of Matt Harvey involves what he did against the Royals in 2015, not what he did for them in 2020.

Harvey held the Royals scoreless for eight innings in Game 5 of the ’15 World Series, enabling the Mets to take a 2-0 lead into the ninth of a “lose or go home” game for New York. It was a classic closer moment, but Harvey convinced Mets’ manager Terry Collins he had enough left to finish off KC.

He didn’t. Harvey walked leadoff man Lorenzo Cain, who scored on the RBI double Harvey gave Eric Hosmer, and the rest is Royal history. Jeurys Familia relieved Harvey and surrendered the tying run; Kansas City won the game, and the Series, in 12, a result Harvey certainly helped make possible.

Harvey went 19-31 with four teams after that, then joined KC on a minor league deal last season. He started four games and relieved in three others, lost three times, and gave up 15 runs in 11 innings. If the KC Royals offered him an opportunity to return, they kept it quiet; he signed with Baltimore for 2021.

He hasn’t done well. He’s 3-10 with a 7.70 ERA and .322 OBA in 18 starts. He’s averaging a bit over four innings per start, and opponents have battered him for seven runs twice, six runs four times, five runs once, and four runs three times.

That Lopez and Harvey remain in Baltimore’s rotation says much about the Orioles’ season.