Welcome back to the latest installment of Kings of Kauffman’s KC Royals player projection series. Up today is relief pitcher Josh Staumont, who in three seasons has become a key component of Kansas City’s bullpen.
The KC Royals left the 2021 season behind knowing their bullpen required replenishment and retooling. Kansas City’s pen had the fifth worst American League ERA and issued more walks than all but four other teams in the league, and significant attrition loomed—almost certain not to return were veteran relievers Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana, Richard Lovelady became a non-factor for 2022 when he underwent Tommy John Surgery late in September, and odds of the club bringing back some other bullpen pieces weren’t good.
The need to find replacements was soon confirmed. Scott Blewett was gone before October ended. In November, Holland, Santana and Jesse Hahn became free agents, Davis retired, and the club let Kyle Zimmer and Jakob Junis go. (Holland recently signed with Texas, Zimmer with the Reds and Junis with San Francisco).
Fortunately, the Royals have taken steps to improve the relief corps. They signed Taylor Clarke right before the lockout began and have since inked Arodys Vizcaíno, Colten Brewer and Brad Peacock, and recently acquired Amir Garrett in a trade with Cincinnati.
Whether any of them will immediately help the Royals remains to be seen. But at least two incumbent relievers—closer Scott Barlow and short man Josh Staumont—shouldn’t worry the club at all. Barlow will likely enjoy another excellent season and Staumont has been solid in each of his three seasons with the club.
But can Staumont remain as good as he’s been?
How Baseball Reference and FanGraphs project Josh Staumont for the KC Royals.
How will reliever Josh Staumont actually perform for the KC Royals this season?
Staumont’s three-year big league track record suggests he’ll be better than Baseball Reference and FanGraphs project.
The now-28 righthander with a blazing fastball broke in with the Royals in 2019, didn’t earn a decision, and finished with a 3.72 ERA in 16 appearances. Then, in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, he appeared in 26 games—almost half of Kansas City’s 60—and went 2-1 with an excellent 2.45 ERA. And he kept his ERA under 3.00 again last season, going 4-3, 2.88 with five saves.
His steady and reliable career performance, and to a lesser extent his three strikeouts in two scoreless Cactus League innings this spring, provide no reason to anticipate trouble this year. Expect Staumont to be Manager Mike Matheny’s first choice to regularly set up Barlow (or pitch the seventh if Garrett takes over the set-up role), pitch a lot (probably 60-70 times), and to post another sub-3.00 ERA and the modest won-loss record typical of most relievers.
In other words, Staumont gives Kansas City no reason to worry.
Josh Staumont will be good for the Royals again this season.