Three potential starting pitchers the KC Royals could target in Pittsburgh

Kansas City needs to improve it's pitching, both now and in the future. Pittsburgh has a deep system of pitching talent but are in a bind due to injuries. Could they work out a deal that's beneficial to both?

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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The Royals could take a flyer on Johan Oviedo.

Picollo has already shown this offseason that he is not averse to risk. On Nov. 16th, he traded pitcher Jackson Kowar to the Atlanta Braves for Kyle Wright, a pitcher who just had shoulder surgery and is about to sit out all of 2024. If we're reading between the lines of this move, Picollo wants to be competitive in 2025, when his young positional core reaches its prime. With that in mind, the Royals should consider taking a flyer on Johan Oviedo. Oviedo, like Wright, has hit the injured list and will require Tommy John's surgery.

Why Oviedo? Kings of Kauffman recently covered the importance of innings pitched and WHIP in a recent installment of Buck the Trends. In order to win games, teams must limit baserunners. Oviedo finished 2023 with a solid 1.37 WHIP over 177.2 innings pitched. Meanwhile, the Royals finished the season with a team WHIP (1.41), which ranked 23rd in the majors. Eight teams allowed a team WHIP higher than 1.4, and not surprisingly, those teams were the top eight in runs allowed.

But WHIP and IP aren't the only reasons the Royals should look at Oviedo. Oviedo has done a terrific job of limiting walks, allowing a 1.86 BB/9. The Royals did a terrible job of limiting walks this year, finishing the season 22nd overall with a 3.53 team BB/9. In order to improve, the Royals must find pitchers who don't issue walks.

Oviedo does a good job of keeping balls in the ballpark: a characteristic that the Royals highly value. He relies heavily on a fastball (96 mph) which is noted for its sinking action that results in a high GB% that would play well to the Royals' defensive strategy. Oviedo also throws a slider (88 mph) and curve (82 mph) which produce a lot of flyballs. Despite the flyball rate, these breaking pitches have resulted in a very low. 96 HR/9. Oviedo allowed only 19 home runs in 32 starts this season. He's someone the Royals should consider taking a flyer on for 2025.