KC Royals News: Front office move, Brad Keller, more

The KC Royals suffered their 83rd loss of the season Friday night, an embarrassing 10-2 defeat at the hands of last place Detroit that moved them closer to the American League Central basement. They’re only 2.5 games ahead of the Tigers heading into today’s scheduled 3:10 p.m. CDT continuation of the clubs’ three-game series.

That changes to this team are in order is a given, with only their scope and breadth to be determined.

That process has already started. Pitching coordinator Jason Simontacchi is out.

Simontacchi, a former big league pitcher who went 11-5 as a St. Louis rookie in 2002, spent the last three of his five Kansas City years in the coordinator’s role. MLB.com KC beat writer Anne Rogers reported Friday that the Royals won’t renew his contract.

Whether the end of Simontacchi’s time with the Royals foretells major league pitching coach Cal Eldred’s future is, considering the club’s failure to make a change despite his disappointing pitching staffs, anyone’s guess. But Kansas City splitting with its pitching coordinator before the season ends should make Eldred nervous.

Moving KC Royals starter Brad Keller to the bullpen hasn’t worked out well.

Brad Keller, one of Kansas City’s maddeningly inconsistent starters until manager Mike Matheny moved him to the bullpen in mid-August, isn’t enjoying the success as a reliever the Royals hoped for.

Although Keller struck out three Tigers in two innings Friday, he also surrendered two runs on three hits and walked two. The effort was consistent with his overall performance since joining the relief corps—he’s given opponents 10 earned runs, 18 hits and six walks in 10 innings.

His ERA, 4.93 after his last start, has risen to 5.24.

Impressive KC Royals rookie Vinnie Pasquantino has returned from the Injured List.

Back in the big league lineup against the Tigers Friday night was rookie first baseman-DH Vinnie Pasquantino, who’d been on the Injured List with shoulder discomfort since Aug. 23. He went 1-for-3 with a double.

Pasquantino started slowly after the Royals called him up from Triple-A Omaha in late June—it took him 19 games to get his average above .200—but hit .329 with five home runs and a .392 OBP in August before landing on the IL.

Will the KC Royals give pitcher Austin Cox a look before this season ends?

We recently suggested lefthanded pitcher Austin Cox as a September roster expansion candidate. Unlike several other pitchers Kansas City selected in the 2018 draft, fifth-round choice Cox hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors. He was an encouraging 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 15 starts at Omaha last season.

This, though, has been an up-and-down campaign for Cox, who was 5-7 eight days ago before beating St. Paul in a six-inning, two-run start. And although he didn’t earn a decision against Indianapolis Thursday, he struck out eight, walked only one and gave up just a run in six innings.

Perhaps the pitching-thin Royals should call him up for a couple of starts before their season concludes Oct. 5.

A lesser-known KC Royals prospect is a terror on the High-A basepaths.

Forgive yourself if you’re not familiar with Tyler Tolbert. A 13th-round 2019 draft pick who’s seen action in the infield and outfield during his three minor league season and currently plays for the Quad Cities River Bandits, Kansas City’s High-A affiliate, Tolbert is hitting only .221 with a .309 OBP this season.

But he tends to make the most of his time on the basepaths.

Tolbert swiped one base against Peoria Friday night and now has 60 steals this season. That number alone is superb, but there’s more to his base running prowess than that.

Not once has he failed a steal attempt this season. He’s a perfect 60-for-60.

Stay tuned for more Royals news.