The KC Royals began and finished 2021 with questionable starting pitching.
There was no sugar-coating Kansas City’s starting pitching before spring training began. Too much uncertainty surrounded key starters Danny Duffy, Brad Keller, Brady Singer, Kris Bubic and Mike Minor. Later, as June closed in on July, the rotation was in disarray.
And in disarray is where the staff finished the campaign. Only second-year Royal Carlos Hernandez (5-2, 3.55 as a starter and 6-2, 3.68 overall) can call the season a complete success, and Jon Heasley and Daniel Lynch can take comfort from their late season pitching. But the starting staff as a whole is in disrepair.
Kansas City starters walked more batters (316) than any other American League club. They had the second worst WHIP (1.45) and the fourth worst ERA (4.97), surrendered the fourth most runs (474) and hits (836), and hit the fourth most batters (39) in the league.
Keller and Minor led the club with eighth wins apiece, but tied for the most losses with 12; Keller’s ERA was 5.39, Minor’s 5.05. Singer lost twice as many games (10) as he won (five). Bubic didn’t make it out of spring training with the major league club, then pitched inconsistently when he returned.
For the Royals to improve on this season’s 74 wins, Keller must harness his elusive effectiveness and Bubic must pitch more like he did after the All-Star Break (4-3, 3.68). Singer needs to overcome whatever concerns he has about throwing his changeup and make it a permanent part of his repertoire. Minor must improve.
But if those things don’t happen, it won’t matter what Hernandez, Lynch, and Heasley, or even Jackson Kowar, do. And that’s a major cause for concern.