Kris Bubic and the KC Royals could be nearing the end of their road together.
High draft picks aren’t supposed to be erratic or hard to figure.
But it’s those two characteristics that define the first three seasons of Kris Bubic’s big league career.
Bubic was among the highly-touted collegiate hurlers the Royals grabbed in the 2018 draft; they took him with the 40th-overall selection, a Competitive Balance pick made between the first and second rounds. He went 2-3 with a 4.03 ERA in Rookie ball that summer before going a stellar 11-5, 2.23 across Low-A and High-A the following season.
Then came the short 2020 campaign. Kansas City could have secured work for Bubic by assigning him to their Alternate Training Site, but they promoted him to the majors instead, and almost assuredly too soon. Thrust immediately into the rotation, he won only once, lost six times, and walked a few too many batters (4.0 BB9) in 10 starts.
Despite a poor spring training performance (he gave up eight runs in 7.1 innings) that prevented him from starting last season in Kansas City, he improved to 6-7, but still experienced some control and consistency issues and spent part of the campaign in the bullpen.
And what of 2022? Bubic went 0-3 with a 13.14 ERA in his first five starts and, after giving up a run in one inning of relief May 11, found himself back in the minors the next day. He was 0-2, 6.59 in three starts at Omaha when the Royals recalled him June 4.
Since then, he’s 1-2 in five starts and, after surrendering seven runs in 4.2 innings and losing to Texas Monday night, has an ugly 7.68 ERA for the season.
Bubic can be good—he threw five scoreless, no-decision innings against Houston the day he returned from Omaha, and struck out seven in gaining his first win June 20.
But like Keller, Bubic is inconsistent and pitches badly too frequently.
And also like Keller, he probably won’t attract any serious trade suitors this summer and may well be looking this winter for another place to pitch.
Without significant improvement, Ryan O’Hearn, Brad Keller and Kris Bubic just might be unemployed after the season.