Could this lefty Tampa Bay free agent start and relieve for the KC Royals?
Lefthanded pitchers, especially those who can start and relieve, are good things to have. Ryan Yarbrough fits that bill and is someone who might be on Kansas City’s radar considering the states of its rotation and bullpen.
Primarily because he’s started and relieved in each of his five seasons with the Rays, Yarbrough sports an interesting 40-31, 4.33 career record. He went 16-6 as a Tampa Bay rookie in 2018, winning twice as a starter but 14 times out of the bullpen. An 11-6 sophomore season followed with Yarbrough winning three as a starter, eight as a reliever. He went 1-4 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign—all four losses came in starts and his only win was in relief.
And 2021? Yarbrough was 9-7, winning five times as a starter and four as a reliever. Then he went 3-8 last season; his wins all came out of the pen and his losses were divided equally between starting and relieving.
Overall, he’s 10-20, 4.75 as a starter and 30-11, 3.82 in relief.
Yarbrough, a free agent after the Rays let him go last month apparently to clear protective space on its 40-man roster for Rule 5 Draft purposes, has an eclectic pitch repertoire that’s included a sinker, curve, cutter, changeup and occasional four-seamer. He has good control (2.03 career BB/9).
Yarbrough, 30, seems like a pitcher the Royals could use as a swingman—a pitcher capable of serviceably starting and relieving—but time will tell whether they have any interest in him.
Three Tampa Bay free agent pitchers should give Kansas City some things to think about.