The KC Royals finally have their fifth starter

Kansas City adds Alec Marsh to the starting rotation.
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A little more than a year ago, after pitching just one Cactus League inning for the KC Royals, Alec Marsh found himself optioned to Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Playing there was something Marsh knew well, but not for the best of reasons — just the year before, he'd suffered an embarrassing 1-15 season with the Naturals, a trying campaign during which he gave up a shocking 101 runs (93 of them earned) in 114.1 innings.

Which was worse — the 15 losses or 7.32 ERA — was hard to decide. And lost in the indignity of his poor Double-A effort was his work after a late September promotion to Triple-A Omaha when he struck out nine and surrendered only a pair of runs in 10 innings.

Now, however, and as he prepares to start one of the Royals' two Thursday split-squad games, Marsh can put the bad memories of 2022 behind him. Fast on the heels of Wednesday's demotion of Daniel Lynch IV to Omaha, a move that appeared to immediately narrow Kansas City's fifth starter field to Marsh and Jordan Lyles, the Royals have decided Marsh is the winner: KC beat writer Anne Rogers reported late Thursday morning that Marsh has made the rotation.

Because Cole Ragans will start Opening Day, and Brady Singer, Michael Wacha, and Seth Lugo are locks for manager Matt Quatraro's rota, Marsh presumably fills the fifth rotation spot.

The news certainly isn't shocking.

Alec Marsh is a logical choice for Kansas City's rotation

Marsh deserves his new assignment. Not only has he pitched well this spring — entering Thursday's play, he'd allowed only three runs in 14 innings (1.93 ERA), had 17 strikeouts, was holding opposing batters to a measly .163 average, and his WHIP was an excellent 0.86.

And last season he turned his pitching world around, going a combined 5-3, 4.62 in a 14-start campaign split between the Naturals and Storm Chasers during which he also posted a 10.83 K/9.

Marsh also is no stranger to the majors. The Royals called him up last June and he went 3-9 with a 5.69 ERA in 17 appearances, eight of which were starts. He fanned 85 and walked 39 in 74.1 innings.

When he'll make his first start of the 2024 season remains to be seen, but it will probably come during the Royals' first road trip. They open the season at home March 28 and play Minnesota three times before traveling to Baltimore for three games beginning April 1. If Marsh doesn't pitch against the Orioles, look for his first start when Kansas City returns home to face the White Sox for four games; that series begins April 4.

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