Projecting the Royals Rotation for 2023

The AL Central is set to be a competitive division in 2023, but can the Royals make some noise this year. If the Royals want to keep up with the Guardians, Twins, and White Sox this season, Kansas City’s collection of pitchers will need to come through. With the 2023 season just around the corner, here’s a look at how the Royals rotation shapes up for this year.

Related: Projecting the Angels Rotation for 2023

A Look at the Royals Rotation Options

  1. RHP Brady Singer (10-5, 3.23 ERA, 8.8 K/9 in 2022)
  2. RHP Zack Greinke (4-9, 3.68 ERA, 4.8 K/9)
  3. RHP Jordan Lyles (12-11, 4.42 ERA, 7.2 K/9)
  4. LHP Ryan Yarbrough (3-8, 4.50 ERA, 6.9 K/9)
  5. RHP Brad Keller/LHP Daniel Lynch/LHP Kris Bubic/RHP Jonathan Heasley

The Kansas City Royals have dealt with a multitude of issues with its young pitching staff over the past few seasons. However, one name that has emerged as a legitimate star in the making is former first-round pick Brady Singer. The Team USA pitcher threw a career-high 153.1 IP in 2022, a season that Singer strike out 150 batters and post a very solid 1.14 WHIP. Singer has primarily been a two-pitch pitcher, living mainly off a hard sinker with good velocity and a tight slider that he has good control of. Additionally, Singer will sprinkle in a changeup from time to time.

Singer has turned into the ace of the present day for the Royals, and he will be joined once again by the ace of the Royals’ past. Zack Greinke re-joined Kansas City this winter, as he continues his march towards 250 career wins and 3,000 strikeouts. Greinke won’t blow away many hitters at this stage of his career, but the righty still displayed impressive command in Kansas City last season.

In addition to the return of Greinke, the Royals brought in two starters via free agency. RHP Jordan Lyles has had a rather inconsistent career, but Kansas City will hope for decent results in 2023. Lyles posted his best campaign in three years last year, but was prone to leaving his breaking stuff over the heart of the plate.

Then, there’s Ryan Yarbrough. The former Rays lefty can dice up hitters with an eclectic arsenal that includes a low-80s cutter, a tough-to-pick-up curveball, and a solid changeup. Deception and good control are the hallmarks of Yarbrough’s game, but the results have been mixed over the past two seasons.

Yarbrough isn’t a lock to make the rotation, though, should one of Kansas City’s four other young pitchers that saw time last season do well this spring. As things stand right now, four interesting arms — Brad Keller, Jonathan Heasley, Kris Bubic, and Daniel Lynch — are vying for one or two spots in the Royals rotation.

While every one of the arm pitchers are at least 27 years of age or younger, neither of the bunch did particularly well on the mound last season. 27-year-old Brad Keller, who has five years of MLB experience, could be considered a front runner. The sinkerballer did quite well in his first three seasons in the Majors, as the righty recorded a very tidy 131 ERA+ from 2018-20 and looked like a building block for the future. Over the past two seasons, however, Keller has dealt with increased control and command problems. The 27-year-old posted a 5.24 ERA over 273.1 IP from 2021-22, the seventh-worst figure in that timespan among pitchers with at least 200 innings pitched.

Keller isn’t the only one that has been problematic in that stretch. Among the 114 pitchers who have logged 200 IP or more over the last two seasons, four pitchers — the aforementioned Keller, Kris Bubic, Jordan Lyles, and Ryan Yarbrough — on the Royals roster finished in the bottom 20 in ERA.

If the Royals want better results in 2023, it will have to start with what the team can get from its collection of starters.

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