KC Royals: Some lefty starters are just down the road

(Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals
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Another 2 St. Louis lefties might warrant consideration from the KC Royals.

Don’t be misled by Kwang Hyun Kim’s short major league career. His two seasons with the Cardinals notwithstanding, he’s still a professional baseball veteran.

Kim, 33, pitched12 years for the Korean Baseball Organization’s SK Wyverns before joining St. Louis in 2020. His 136-77 KBO record established his pitching bona fides; his 3-0, 1.62 ERA in eight 2020 games with the Cards confirmed them.

Kim wasn’t as effective this season, though—hindered by three trips to the Injured List, he went 7-7 with a 3.46 ERA in the second, and final, year of his first major league deal.

Whether Kim re-signs with the Cardinals, lands with another club, or returns to the KBO remains to be seen.

Then there’s Wade LeBlanc, a lefty capable of starting or relieving who started the 2021 campaign with Baltimore. He quickly earned his release by giving up seven runs in 6.2 innings, then pitched in the Milwaukee and Texas organizations without being called up to the majors.

He signed with St. Louis in mid-June and pitched well for the Cards (0-1 with a 3.61 ERA across eight starts and four relief appearances) before an elbow issue ended his season in September.

A 13-year big league veteran with an eclectic four-seam fastball, sinker, cutter, curve, and changeup repertoire, LeBlanc, 37, is 34-42, 4.66 as a starter and 12-7, 4.23 as a reliever.

Should the KC Royals pursue any of these lefthanded pitchers this winter?

Relievers Luis Garcia and Andrew Miller, and corner infielder-DH Matt Carpenter are also St. Louis free agents. But because Kansas City’s 2021 rotation was a shaky mix of inconsistency and inexperience, adding a capable veteran lefthanded leader and mentor might make a difference.

Lester is the best bet in the St. Louis free agent pitching bunch, a still-decent starter Kansas City should at least consider, but only for a season. If the Royals wants a proven winner to help set the tone for their budding young pitchers, he might be their man.

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The KC Royals could find a new pitcher just down the road.