It is safe to say the KC Royals stunned fans when they omitted reliever Josh Staumont from the Opening Day roster. The hurler was a valuable bullpen piece in recent years as a setup man for closer Scott Barlow. But velocity and control concerns made him start the 2023 season in Triple-A Omaha, hardly a demotion you see someone of his caliber suffer. His minor-league stint was short-lived, as the Royals recalled the righty on Friday.
During his time in Triple-A, he worked on refining his mechanics and improving his pitch selection. It's clear that the hard work paid off, as he was able to return to the major leagues with renewed confidence and effectiveness on the mound.
KC Royals reliever Josh Staumont return to the majors this week, after a needed retooling in Omaha.
“A lot of it was just kind of tweaking little things here and there, trying to make sure that we’re being as consistent as possible,” Staumont said after his return. “And some of that just comes with extra reps and stuff like that. It’s good. So we’re just happy to kind of keep the ball rolling. I’ve been throwing really well through spring training all the way up to here. So we just got to kick it up a notch and do it up here basically.”
Staumont returned to Kansas City in a successful fashion, with one inning pitched and no hits against the Atlanta Braves on Friday. It is hardly a big sample size, with only 15 pitches thrown in his return. However, it is a promising start for the right-handed pitcher, who has struggled with control issues in the past. Royals fans enjoyed seeing his clean four-seam fastball control against the Braves. His historically best pitch, Staumont threw the pitch eight times, seven in the shadow of the strike zone. He struggled with first-pitch strikes in 2022, and that appeared again in his return. Two of the Brave's three plate appearances started with a first-pitch ball.
Those are just some casual notes from Staumont's return and should not be a final conclusion on his 2023 season by any means. Staumont does represent an important first, though. He is the first veteran under this new pitching regime to be sent down from Kansas City, work in Omaha, and then be recalled. The results could be important regarding other pitchers like Dylan Coleman, who was sent down Thursday. Staumont's return could be the first success story of the new pitching coaches “fixing” a player, something the previous regime struggled to do at the major-league level.