Kansas City overhauled both the coaching staff and talent specifically to get their pitching closer to an average squad.
Last year the team struggled to get any significant win streaks going, Their 65-97 record put them in last place in the AL Central. While their pitching staff can’t hold all of the blame by itself, the Royals bullpen did not do the team any favors over the year.
Kansas City was only able to get two win streaks that were over five games. From June seventeenth through June twenty fourth the Royals racked off seven wins and from July seventh to July fourteenth they won eight games in a row. This was contradicted by 10 separate losing streaks of five or more games.
The biggest reason for the KC struggling was their pitching both starting pitching and their bullpen. The Royals spent the offseason finding players and coaches to fix both of these key issues.
The first big move of the offseason was hiring Tampa Bay’s bench coach as their new manager. Matt Quantraro comes from a system that has a history of developing young pitching. With the youth in the position. Guys like Kris Bubic, Jackson Kowar, and Brady Singer are all still in the early stages of their careers.
The second biggest hire of the offseason is former Cleveland Guardians bullpen coach Brian Sweeney. Cleveland is another organization that has a recent history of developing young pitching.
The addition to the coaching staff removes the excuses the fans have for the lack of quality pitching.
The Royals also overhauled their pitching roster with multiple trades and free-agent acquisitions. While most of the new players seem like marginal improvements at best. However, Kansas City struggled so much that getting back to average would be a dramatic improvement. Here are the most important moves.
Kansas City added veteran depth to the roster in December with free agent signings Jordan Lyles and Ryan Yarbrough.
Last season Lyles pitched in 32 games with the Baltimore Orioles. He put up average numbers in terms of ERA (earned runs added) and league-average WHIP. WHIP is the sum of pitchers’ walks and hits divided by the total number of innings pitched. Yarbrough comes from Tampa Bay and put up slightly below average in both ERA and WHIP meaning that the Royals were able to improve with both of those signings.
In January the Royals signed Alrodis Chapman who in his prime was the best closer in all of the MLB. While his skill set has diminished he provides value to the team as a player that can eat up quality innings and has the ability to close out tight games.
Kansas City’s offseason was also defined by the players it traded away to gain more pitchers. The Royals traded Adalberto Mondesi to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later and left-handed pitcher Josh Taylor. Much like the other players the Royals acquired J. Taylor is a veteran and an average bullpen arm. Much like Mondesi J. Taylor has been plagued by injuries over his career missing all of the 2022 season.
Center fielder Michael A Taylor was sent off to the Minnesota Twins for left-handed pitcher Evan Sisk and right-handed pitcher Steven Cruz. Both Cruz and Sisk are minor-league pitchers that have not stepped on the big-league mound. Sisk is an above-average pitcher.
The Royals were also able to bring back Zach Greinke on a one-year deal. Greinke was an effective pitcher last year up until his injury. He ate up quality innings and is the leader by example inside the clubhouse. While his pitches no longer have the velocity it used to, he is a guaranteed starter in a young rotation.
Putting together an average bullpen around a young pitching staff can help eat up innings whenever the game starts to get out of reach. It can also keep games close when a similar game with the same pitching staff a year ago would have gotten out of reach.
Questions still stand about both the starting pitching and how players will progress. One thing is certain: the Royals’ pitching core should be improved over last year with the new additions of both the new coaches and players.