Royals Roster Projection 1, Part 2: The Arms

The first of, I don't know, some roster projections for Royals pitchers. I'll be updating.

I went over the bats yesterday in this space, and today I’ll look at what the Royals roster is looking like in regards to the pitching staff. As I said, this is all subject to change with any additional signings or performances as spring training gets going. With all these projections, I’m giving you their 50th percentile PECOTA projections.

To see the roster projection for the bats, click here.


Brad Keller
4.41 ERA, 17.9% K, 9.5% BB, 1.41 WHIP

Mike Minor
3.71 ERA, 24.5% K, 8.0% BB, 1.24 WHIP

Brady Singer
4.28 ERA, 21.0% K, 9.6% BB, 1.38 WHIP

Danny Duffy
4.55 ERA, 23.0% K, 8.8% BB, 1.36 WHIP

Kris Bubic
4.38 ERA, 23.7% K, 11.1% BB, 1.42 WHIP

Outside Looking In

Ervin Santana
5.22 ERA, 15.5% K, 8.2% BB, 1.45 WHIP

Daniel Lynch
4.04 ERA, 21.1% K, 8.9% BB, 1.32 WIHP

Jackson Kowar
4.75 ERA, 19.4% K, 9.7% BB, 1.44 WHIP

Asa Lacy
No Projection

This is a bit of an odd bunch, though it has a chance to be pretty decent in 2021 with some improvements from the young arms. If Bubic’s command begins to look more like what we saw from him in the minors and he can maintain the strikeout rate, he could be a very solid middle of the rotation arm this season. Singer’s changeup development is vital for him, but even if he doesn’t and he just matches the projection, that has some very real value.

The Royals are hoping to get something closer to 2019 Mike Minor, which is possible, and the projections indicate that there’s a chance, but we’ll see what the velocity looks like. Duffy’s improved strikeout numbers are encouraging, but also he probably should be in the bullpen and maybe would be if not for such a bizarre 2020 where the Royals are going to need a good number of innings from different starters. And then there’s Keller, who had a fantastic 2020 season, but the reality is that his style is never going to win him any friends in the projections. He’s elite at keeping the ball in the yard, though, so if he can keep that up, he has value on a pitching staff.

For the others, I imagine at least Lynch and Kowar will get big league time, but Santana will compete in the spring and if the Royals decide to open with a six-man rotation, I’d say he has the first crack at the job. If the velocity reports out of winter ball are accurate, they might have something. I’ll believe it when I see it, but it’s possible. Lynch having the best projection of any non-Minor starter gives me the giggles a little bit because I’m so excited for him to debut and hopefully set the world on fire. And for Lacy, he has no pro stats. I’d be very surprised if he has a real chance, but he’ll compete in the spring and the Royals believe he’s very advanced, so you never know. I could have included Jonathan Bowlan and Austin Cox in the outside looking in group and maybe even Jakob Junis, who you’ll see below, but I didn’t, so that’s why I’m mentioning them here.

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Greg Holland
4.24 ERA, 24.0% K, 12.0% BB, 1.42 WHIP

Jesse Hahn
4.37 ERA, 22.2% K, 9.8% BB, 1.39 WHIP

Scott Barlow
3.69 ERA, 27.6% K, 10.3% BB, 1.29 WHIP

Josh Staumont
5.10 ERA, 29.3% K, 16.1% BB, 1.57 WHIP

Wade Davis
5.16 ERA, 21.5% K, 13.0% BB, 1.53 WHIP

Kyle Zimmer
4.28 ERA, 23.6% K, 12.8% BB, 1.45 WIHP

Tyler Zuber
4.27 ERA, 26.8% K, 10.9% BB, 1.37 WHIP

Jakob Junis
4.68 ERA, 20.6% K, 6.7% BB, 1.35 WHIP (projections as a starter)

If you’re looking at the projections of that bullpen, you might notice one thing that would make an instant difference and it’s limiting walks. All but Zuber and Hahn’s walk rates were lower in 2020 than their 2021 projections. If they can keep their walk rates where they were in 2020, this Royals bullpen is shaping up to be pretty darn good and there might be another addition at some point who would make it even better. If the Royals are going to surprise, it’s likely the same way they did in 2013 and 2014 - with a bullpen that shuts down the opponent and either maintains a lead or gives the offense a chance to come back.

The issue here is that there isn’t a lefty to be found in the above names. Is that a huge deal? No. But it’d be nice to have someone who can get outs from the left side. I still think that could be Duffy at some point or maybe they break in Lynch or Cox out of the bullpen, but there’s also a guy below who I hope they give another shot to. He hasn’t been given much opportunity, and in the team’s defense, he hasn’t done much when he was given a chance, but it’d still be nice if he could find his way to the roster to see what he can do.

Outside Looking In

Jake Newberry
4.64 ERA, 23.2% K, 10.9% BB, 1.42 WHIP

Carlos Hernandez
5.14 ERA, 20.3% K, 12.2% BB, 1.53 WHIP

Jake Brentz
6.23 ERA, 22.3% K, 16.8% BB, 1.78 WHIP

Carlos Sanabria
5.28 ERA, 22.9% K, 14.1% BB, 1.59 WHIP

Gabe Speier
4.72 ERA, 20.8% K, 10.4% BB, 1.44 WHIP

Ronald Bolaños
5.16 ERA, 19.8% K, 12.3% BB, 1.54 WHIP

Scott Blewett
5.46 ERA, 18.1% K, 11.1% BB, 1.54 WHIP

Richard Lovelady
3.83 ERA, 22.0% K, 8.1% BB, 1.29 WHIP

Yeah, you probably figured out it was Lovelady who I was talking about above. The depth here is actually somewhat encouraging and there are enough relievers projected to the big league roster with options that we could see some pretty serious shuffling throughout the season, especially as some of the young minor league arms start to make their debuts.

And that’s it for the projected roster, pre-spring training. I’ll be back with another one of these in two or three weeks once we have some additional information.