If KC Royals fans need another reminder about the team's starting rotation struggles, look no further than an abysmal amount of quality starts.
The KC Royals and quality starts do not go together in 2023.
For those unaware, a quality start is when a starter pitches at least six innings and surrenders no more than three earned runs. It describes a start that may not be dominant but still keeps the team in the game. It is a relatively new term in baseball. The Philadelphia Inquirer's John Lowe coined the term back in 1985, saying that it "shows exactly how many times a baseball pitcher has done his job". Expecting a quality start every time is still a fairly low bar. If a team's ace went a whole season throwing nothing but quality starts, their ERA would be 4.50. Is that what you want from your best pitcher? Not really. Still, the statistic is an easy way to quantify pitchers who not only limit the opposition's runs but do not force the manager into the bullpen early.
Enter the Royals. Fans know about how rough the starting rotation has been at times. The struggles apply to the bullpen at times as well, but starters are expected to shoulder the brunt of pitching work on any given day. The 2023 season is nearly halfway over, so there are no more slow-start arguments against the Royals starters. The Royals have played 75 games, and have only 10 quality starts to their name. 14 MLB starters, including Minnesota Twins starter Joe Ryan and Cleveland Guardians' pitcher Shane Bieber, have 10 or more quality starts in 2023. The Royals' 10 also trails the abysmal Oakland Athletics by six, the most significant margin from one team to another.
Brady Singer leads all Kansas City pitchers with three quality starts this season. Meanwhile, the struggling Jordan Lyles and two-pitch Daniel Lynch are tied for second on the team with two apiece. Zack Greinke, Kris Bubic, and Brad Keller all have one piece to round out the rotation.
MLB Leaderboard - Quality Starts
37 - Seattle Mariners
36 - Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros
35- Texas Rangers
34 - Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres
33 - Pittsburgh Pirates
31 - Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies
29 - Cleveland Guardians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks
28 - Chicago White Sox
26 - Atlanta Braves
25 - Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Rays
24 - Baltimore Orioles
23 - Washington Nationals
22 - Boston Red Sox
21 - New York Yankees, Miami Marlins
20 - New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals
18 - Detroit Tigers
17 - Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies
16 - Oakland Athletics
10 - Kansas City Royals
In the words of Mad Men's Pete Campbell, "Not great Bob!"