Will this former KC Royals reliever face his old team this week?

Joel Payamps is in town with the Brewers.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

An old friend who used to pitch for them could turn the tables on the KC Royals this week. Joel Payamps, who pitched for Kansas City in parts of three recent seasons, will be in Milwaukee's bullpen when the Brewers and Royals open a three-game series tonight at Kauffman Stadium.

And Payamps isn't just taking up space in new manager Pat Murphy's pen; he is, as he was last season, a key component of Milwaukee's relief corps. Mentioned during spring training as a possible closer by Damien Flores at our sister FanSided site Reviewing the Brew, Payamps is 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA in 13 appearances, and leads the club with four saves in six opportunities.

Since landing with Milwaukee in the winter of 2022 (more on that in a moment), Payamps is pitching more and better than ever. But Royals fans became accustomed to seeing him in Kansas City during the parts of two campaigns he worked out of the KC bullpen.

How Joel Payamps came to, and left, the KC Royals

Payamps was one of former Kansas City executive Dayton Moore's somewhat curious acquisitions — with only a few days left before the 2021 midseason trade deadline expired, and without any previous public speculation that Payamps was on their radar, the Royals sent cash to Toronto for Payamps. Payamps wasn't overwhelming for KC down the season's stretch, but did go 1-1 with a 4.63 ERA in 15 appearances; he also spent post-deal time at Triple-A Omaha.

Manager Mike Matheny used him more in 2022: Payamps was 2-3 with a respectable 3.16 ERA. But after 29 appearances, the club designated him for assignment in August; fortunately for him, Oakland needed a reliever and claimed him off waivers. He was 1-3, 3.46 for the A's.

Joel Payamps is finding sustained success in Milwaukee

Payamps' stay in Oakland didn't last long. The Athletics shipped him to the Brewers as part of a complicated eight-player, three-team transaction between the A's, Braves, and Brewers perhaps best known now for landing catcher William Contreras in Milwaukee.

His second change of clubs in less than half a year is definitely working out. Last season was unquestionably Pampas' finest big league campaign yet — in a career-high 69 games, he went 7-5 with a 2.55 ERA and three saves; those seven wins and 2.55 ERA established new personal career-bests, and the three saves were his first in the majors.

He's already surpassed that save total this season, and could add to it during his club's three games with his old team this week. Whether Murphy deploys him against the Royals remains to be seen, but it could be interesting if he does.

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