The KC Royals left Kauffman Stadium on Saturday with a disappointing two-loss doubleheader, but pitcher Cole Ragans could walk out with his head held high. Kansas City acquired the lefty in late June from the Texas Rangers, as part of the Aroldis Chapman trade. Ragans may not be touching Chapman's fastball velocity, but he got pretty close in his fist game as a Royal.
KC Royals pitcher Cole Ragans left fans with a lot to like in his debut.
“[Saturday] felt like my debut all over again,” Ragans said. “All the nerves, excitement, adrenaline. It was nice to get out there.”
The Royals deployed a pair of 25-year-old starters against the Tampa Bay Rays, with Alec Marsh starting off the doubleheader. Marsh and Ragans represent the 15th and 16th starting pitchers for the Royals this season, a very high number for any team. But, both pitchers impressed manager Matt Quatraro in the first two games following the All-Star break.
“It was exciting. Both of them threw the ball well,” Quatraro said. “That was probably Marsh’s best [start], obviously results-wise but also best stuff. And for the first time seeing Ragans, I definitely wasn’t expecting [98-99 mph] velo. The way he carried himself, the conversations in the dugout, the way he was composed -- it was good to see.”
Ragans, may not have a Chapman-level fastball, but he sure surprised Royals fans with his fastball as a starter. He threw it 39 times against the Rays, averaging 97.5 MPH. He touched 99.8 MPH with the pitch and registered his first strikeout as a Royal against Jose Siri with the pitch. Ragans abused opposing batters, playing the changeup off of that fastball. He recorded a 40% CSW with the changeup, and 28% CSW on his pitches overall.
Ragans ended the day with five innings of one-run ball, a welcome start from any Royals starter this season. He recorded only three strikeouts to two walks, but he kept one of the league's best offenses fairly quiet. Not a bad evening at all.
“Had the two walks, obviously don’t like those, but worked through it and calmed myself down,” Ragans said. “After that, I felt like I filled it up a little bit more.”
Since the Royals promoted Ragans as the 27th man, he went back to Triple-A Omaha following the doubleheader. That is not the Royals sending him back down for some unknown reason, but because they had to. Fans are right to question why the Royals deploy certain aging starting pitchers when they have a clear possible young rotation. But, Ragans did all he could. He made his case for more major-league starts after Saturday, showing the Royals they do have another starting option waiting in the wings.