Pitcher Richard Lovelady
Unlike Hernández, pitcher Richard Lovelady is a relative unknown entering 2023. He has not thrown a big league inning since 2021, when he posted a 3.48 ERA over 20 2/3 innings. Lovelady needed the dreaded Tommy John surgery in September of 2021, and Kansas City non-tendered the pitcher. The team re-signed him to a minor-league deal in 2022, and Lovelady looked ready for the big leagues once again.
Lovelady pitched in four games against AA and AAA in 2022, not surrendering a run and striking out nine total batters. Each appearance was just for one inning, but that is all the Royals would need from the 27-year-old in the majors. He continued the scoreless streak with a shutout inning against the Texas Rangers on Saturday, further proving he belongs in the 2023 bullpen.
Lovelady is trending in the right direction, but he is still no guarantee in the bullpen. Moreover, unlike Hernández, Lovelady will most likely begin the season with the Royals rather than being promoted later. If he has already proven he can slice through AAA competition, why would the Royals reinjure with Lovelady working minor-league innings? If the UCL looks good and Lovelady is proving himself on the mound, then there is no reason for the Royals to keep him off the Opening Day roster. But that puts the pressure on Lovelady in his major league return.