3 hot KC Royals pitching takes from club's Cactus League finale

Kansas City continued to get good pitching Saturday.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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The KC Royals began their last day in Arizona Saturday by breaking the news that Nick Loftin, Dairon Blanco, and Matt Sauer have all made the roster for next week's season opener against Minnesota. And with most, if not all, of the spring-long roster puzzle thus solved, the Royals ended their Cactus League schedule by playing Surprise training complex partner Texas to a 1-1 tie.

Despite its lack of final resolution, the contest added at least some evidence that the state of Kansas City's pitching isn't as bleak as it was last year ... or the last several seasons, for that matter. Holding the opposition to a single run is always good regardless of context, and what the Royals saw Saturday should please them as they break camp and travel to Springdale, Ark., where they'll play Double-A affiliate Northwest Arkansas Monday evening before traveling to Kansas City for Thursday's first game of the regular season.

Three things were confirmed on the mound Saturday.

Ángel Zerpa deserves a Kansas City roster spot

Anne Rogers, MLB.com's always reliable Royals beat writer, predicted Saturday that Zerpa, a four-pitch lefty, will join a host of other relievers on the Opening Day roster. That's an opinion we share, especially after his Saturday performance against the Rangers.

Zerpa went into Saturday's contest with a 6.52 ERA, a number skewed by the four runs he surrendered to San Francisco over 2.2 innings in his third appearance of the spring; without the blemish of those runs and that game, his ERA would have been a far more palatable 2.53.

And he was good again Saturday — he held Texas scoreless, struck out three, and didn't walk anyone in the 3.1 innings manager Matt Quatraro gave him. Owner of a 5-5, 3.84 ERA record in 19 big league games, Zerpa finished the Cactus League schedule with 13 strikeouts and only two walks in 13 innings. Not surprising, then, is the seat in the bullpen he's apparently earned.