Why a big September is crucial for these 3 KC Royals

A trio of Kansas City players need to do well this month.

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September will end at Kauffman Stadium for the KC Royals, who then close out this distressing season October 1 with an afternoon game against the Yankees. There will be no trip to the postseason, no victory parade, no celebration.

That doesn't mean, though, that the campaign's final full month isn't important. The Royals still have a sliver-slim chance of avoiding the worst record in franchise history (after losing to Boston Sunday, they must go 15-9 the rest of the way to finish with fewer losses than the 2005 club's record 106), and some nice personal marks are within reach for Salvador Perez, Bobby Witt Jr. and Brady Singer.

But those stars aren't the only players for whom September is critical. Their performances down the stretch could help shape the Kansas City future of several other Royals.

Consider these three among them.

A KC Royals pitcher needs some excellent September appearances

Jackson Kowar seemed to have the baseball world firmly by its tail when Kansas City called him up to the majors in 2021. He'd been a successful minor league pitcher to that point, and wildly so that season at Triple-A Omaha, where he was 5-0 with an 0.85 ERA when the Royals promoted him in early June.

Sadly, success didn't follow Kowar to Kansas City. His first three appearances went so badly — opponents battered him for 10 runs and 11 hits in five innings — that manager Mike Matheny didn't call on him again before the club dispatched him back to Omaha. Kowar wasn't much better when he returned in September, and he finished the season 0-4 with a 9.95 ERA.

The road between Omaha and Kansas City has been well-traveled by Kowar ever since. He's yet to recapture the pitching magic he first rode to the big leagues; in fact, that he's given up 35 runs in 36 innings over the 2022 and 2023 major league seasons explains why he rarely pitches in high-leverage situations.

Kowar didn't have a decision last year, and doesn't have one this season. He's never saved a game, or had the opportunity to do so, for the Royals. His two career holds don't count for much. And he's given up 18 runs (14 earned) and walked 15 in 20.1 innings this year.

All that clouds Kowar's Kansas City future. If he doesn't pitch better down the stretch, what we said about him before this season began may prove true — 2023 could end up being his last Royal shot.

Who's next?