The KC Royals 2018 draft class, especially the pitchers, has been one of the many beaten, dead horses in the 2023 season. Listen, Brady Singer is not going to be the ace that fans wanted this season. Jackson Kowar is a bullpen arm, and that is okay. Jonathan Bowlan just made it to Triple-A Omaha, delayed by injuries and the pandemic. The Royals' investment in these arms will not live up to fans' expectations. That is how it goes in the MLB, especially with the Royals' terrible track record of developing pitchers. But, I forgot about all that for one evening thanks to Daniel Lynch.
Daniel Lynch's start led KC Royals to a crucial divisional victory.
Lynch pitched seven innings of one-hit shutout baseball against AL Central rival Detroit Tigers. Thankfully, even the Royals could not ruin that start, winning 1-0 after some close calls in the later innings. This is Lynch's first win since Aug. 1, 2022, after racking up nine losses since then. The lefty focused on the day's win rather than the abysmal season so far.
“No matter what’s going on in the season, when you win a game in the Major Leagues, you celebrate it,” Lynch said. “We had a lot of guys do a lot of great things tonight. I think it’s a big win.”
Lynch's success came from an aggressive fastball-changeup mix. Out of his 78 pitches, Lynch threw 40 fastballs and 28 changeups. The Tigers could not touch the changeup, as Lynch had a 36% CSW on that pitch. The elevated fastball was staying up the upper third of the zone, or just outside the zone. Lynch struggled to keep the fastball high at points in 2022, so seeing this consistency gives me some more confidence in Lynch moving forward.
“It was one of those things where we just got into a groove,” Lynch said. “I really didn’t spin the ball that much at all today. But I think when something’s working, you just got to stick with it. We didn’t do too much, and that’s how you get on a roll. You’re really just throwing two similar pitches -- changeups and fastballs. It’s easy to get into a rhythm, and as long as that keeps working, you just got to stick with it.”
Even Tigers catcher Jake Rogers recognized the strategy, and gave kudos to catcher Salvador Perez.
“The changeup was pretty good," Rogers said. "He was throwing it kind of away today, and we couldn't really stay through it, so something was pretty good about it. Salvy was great calling the game back there, so you tip the cap to him and what he did to us."
Lynch has certainly changed his arsenal since last season. In 2022, he threw the changeup at 18.2%, third behind the slider and fastball. Now, he is throwing a changeup at 29.4%, leaving behind while working in a curveball occasionally. Lynch's changeup is the 10th-best among all qualified pitchers, with a -6 run value according to Baseball Savant. In a season where the Royals lack many exemplary performances, Lynch's seven-inning outing is much appreciated. Hopefully, this is a sign of future success rather than a flash in the pan.