Starting pitcher Jordan Lyles
Royals fans are familiar with the struggling starter known as Jordan Lyles. The Royals "big" free agent acquisition this offseason did not do worse in May than in April but continued to reach historic lows. Through 11 starts, his nine losses, 50 earned runs, and 16 surrendered home runs are the worst in all of baseball. The Royals have not won a single game that Lyles started. Players can have slumps, but few have been worse than the one Lyles is in.
Seeing Lyles turn a corner at this point is hard to envision. While he has 7.1 WAR in 13 seasons, he has never been an exemplary pitcher. He has never posted an ERA below 4, logged more than 150 strikeouts, or been a team's top starter. Considering all that, expecting him to at least be an innings eater in the Royals rotation was a fair expectation. He did record at least 175 innings in the past two seasons, averaging nearly six innings per start. Lyles replicating those marks seems like an otherworldly stretch now. There is a reason he has played for eight different teams in his career, and it wasn't because he is a hot trade piece.
It is hard to pick one or two things Lyles could be doing differently. Miss bats? His 12.4% barrel mark is nearly double the league average, putting him in the 10th percentile. Lyles compounds that with one of the worst overall whiff percentages in all of baseball, landing him once again in the 10th percentile. His hard-hit percentage is in the 69th percentile, which is nice. Outside of that, there is nothing that Lyles is really excellent at this season. It is disappointing. Usually, fans can look at a player and find at least one good thing they do. From this perspective, there is not a tangible thing Lyles can do to help the Royals win.
Lyles can still find his footing this season, but his difficulties through May will overshadow any progress. The Royals signed the veteran after one decent season, in a move similar to something the previous leadership would have done. Lyles is here to stay, as Kansas City lacks any young pitcher able to take his spot in the rotation. For fans' sake, Lyles needs to not be a guaranteed loss every fifth day in June.