KC Royals badly need a jump-start from Dan Altavilla tonight

The reliever will open for Kansas City against the Yankees.
Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages
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Apparently convinced he's not quite ready to pitch regularly in the majors, the KC Royals sent promising reliever Will Klein back to the minors Monday. Summoned to take his place in their bullpen, where a group of relievers with varying degrees of experience continue searching for consistency, was Dan Altavilla, a veteran of parts of six previous big league campaigns who hadn't thrown a major league pitch since 2021.

Manager Matt Quatraro didn't waste time putting his new man to work. With Kansas City trailing the Yankees 4-1 Monday evening, the second-year skipper called on Altavilla to pitch the eighth, and the righty didn't disappoint — he struck out Alex Verdugo and DJ MeMahieu swinging and retired Trent Grisham on a grounder for a three-up, three-down Royal debut.

Quatraro hopes for a similarly effective effort from Altavilla tonight. But it's a far different role in which he'll deploy Altavilla when the Royals and New York square off for the third game in their four-contest Kauffman Stadium series at 7:10 p.m. CDT.

Dan Altavilla's start has a definite purpose for the KC Royals

After coming out of the pen for each and every one of his 120 major league appearances, Altavilla is scheduled to make the first start of his career.

Altavilla's assignment won't be a start in the conventional sense. Expect him to work as an opener only and to work only an inning or two before giving way to Daniel Lynch IV, whose turn in the rotation would have come tonight had Quatraro not elected to use Altavilla instead.

It is a choice probably borne of necessity more than preference. Over the three times he's started this season, opponents have raked Lynch for seven runs, six hits, and three walks, and are slashing .400/.550/.733 in the first inning. Surely the Royals prefer to deploy starters to begin games, but in this case it makes sense to try something else ... at least until Lynch regains his first-frame bearings.

Kansas City needs a good result from Dan Altavilla tonight

The Royals' rotation, so good for so long this season, has taken a bad turn. It's saddled itself with the worst starting June ERA in the American League, a 6.70 mark that through Tuesday's games is the only one above 6.00 in the league for the month.

Getting a good inning, or two and maybe three, from Altavilla, and a good outing from Lynch, could help jump-start the rotation. And that would be excellent considering that, after losing the first two games of this series with the Yankees, the Royals can do no better than split the set, and they've lost three in a row and 10 of their last 15.

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