The season is still young and much can change, but what in the world are the KC Royals doing with Brady Singer? The club announced part of its starting rotation with less than a week remaining in spring Training—Zack Greinke, Brad Keller, Kris Bubic, and Carlos Hernández—had earned their places to start the season.
At least publicly, the decision left the fifth starter role open. Daniel Lynch claimed it and Brady Singer, a member of the starting five since coming up in 2020, started the season in the bullpen. It’s tough to argue that this decision was the wrong one: Lynch has pitched well in two starts so far and Tuesday night threw five scoreless innings against the Minnesota Twin to earn his first win of 2022. His ERA is 5.40, but his stuff has looked outstanding in both starts.
Singer, on the other hand, has made just one appearance in the first 10 games of the season. In his lone outing against Cleveland April 10, he allowed four runs in three innings, giving him an early 12.00 ERA.
The KC Royals made the right call. Did they forget Brady Singer’s potential?
Giving Lynch the final rotation spot was the right call. Beyond that, however, Kansas City’s approach to Brady Singer has been terrible.
Singer did not pitch well in 2021—over 27 starts, he was a replacement-level pitcher worth 0.1 bWAR. His 4.91 ERA, however, was the second-best among Royal starters with at least 20 starts. Singer’s record was poor—five wins and 10 losses—but he struck out 131 batters in 128.1 innings for a 9.2 SO9 that was good for fifth among KC pitchers, and second among starters behind only Danny Duffy.
Singer’s 4.04 FIP ranked fourth on the team and his 3.7 BB9 was good for fifth. By no means was Singer an outstanding pitcher in 2021, but a closer look reveals he was among the most encouraging pitchers on the Royals’ roster.
Singer pitched acceptably in 2020’s unique pandemic-shortened season. He was 4-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 12 starts and had a better BB9 (3.2) than he did in 2021, and only a slightly lower SO9 (8.5) than last year. And he almost threw a no-hitter.
All things considered, Singer’s situation begs this question: Why is a 25-year-old first round draft pick with a track record of at least some major league success wasting away on the roster making no appearances?
Is Brady Singer an example of the KC Royals’ unclear rotation direction?
If the Royals want Singer to transition to a long-term bullpen role, wouldn’t he appear more than once in 10 games? On the other hand, if they wish to continue developing him into a major league starter, he needs more innings. Right now, neither is happening.
The Royals should have optioned Singer to Triple-A to start this season. A major concern about him as a starter is his pitch mix. Singer’s changeup has become a headline in more ways than any KC pitch in recent memory—simply put, he doesn’t throw it enough. With just two true offerings (sinker and slider), the uphill climb to becoming a successful big league starter is steep for Singer. Per Baseball Savant, he threw 2,287 pitches last season—56.3% were sinkers, 38.2% were sliders and just 3.9% were changeups. Only one of his 60 pitches this season was a changeup.
Singer needs to hone his changeup or develop a fourth offering. A fourth pitch would lessen the focus on his change, a pitch he seems uncomfortable throwing. Regardless of the plan of action, though, Singer can’t develop anything if he isn’t pitching. The Royals should send him to Triple-A where he can work on his repertoire; he can then return to the majors with a new approach that can build on the positive aspects of his game.
The Royals shouldn’t give up on Brady Singer. Instead, they must stop failing him. It’s time to do better by Singer.