To start the day, KC Royals manager Ned Yost named Nate Karns the team’s fifth starter. He will fill in behind the combination of Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, and Jason Vargas in the rotation. There was a competition between Karns, lefty Travis Wood, and returnee Chris Young this spring.
Wood and Young will now shift to the bullpen, making THAT picture a little more crowded. Those two join closer Kelvin Herrera and setup man Joakim Soria. Most likely, the Royals will carry both Mike Minor and Matt Strahm (two lefties). That gives the Royals 11 total pitchers (two lefty starters and three lefty relievers).
Meaning, there is one, maybe two, bullpen spots left and there are some intriguing candidates still in big league camp.
Peter Moylan resigned, but only to a minor league deal (how did he not get a big league deal???). He rejoined the team after Australia was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic and has allowed a run on four hits and a walk over three innings while striking out three since his return. Moylan has an opt-out date of March 28th, so he could be gone before the season starts (but then again, no one signed him this offseason).
The Royals released one of their veteran signees yesterday, and that was Brandon League. However, there are still four more left in camp. Lefty Jonathan Sanchez and right-hander Bobby Parnell have been the two worst pitchers in camp in terms of ERA (18.69 and 15.19 respectively). Sanchez has walked five and allowed nine hits over just 4.1 innings. Parnell has walked four and allowed 11 hits over 5.1 innings. Chris Withrow has walked just one over 4.1 innings, but has an 8.31 ERA. Al Alburquerque was lights out at the start of spring training, but has struggled lately (four runs on nine hits and a walk over his last four innings).
Lefty Scott Alexander has rebounded from learning he has diabetes last year, to a real contender this season. However, can the Royals afford to carry THAT many lefties? Alexander continues to force their hand: 8.2IP, 5H, 2R, ER, BB, 6K. Fellow lefty Eric Stout is also making an impression, allowing just a run on four hits over seven innings. He has struck out six.
Right-hander Yender Caramo finally has the Royals taking notice. After pitching well throughout his minor league career, he has impressed this spring. The sinkerballer has allowed just one run on five hits over 6.1 innings. Caramo is the perfect option to bring in with men on base to get a double play.
Fellow right-hander Malcom Culver is also still in camp, though he has struggled to a 5.63 ERA over eight innings (plus he has walked three compared to three strikeouts).
Who do you think will make the cut?
I would love to see Alexander (or Stout) and Caramo sneak onto the Opening Day roster, but all three probably need some more seasoning. I think the Royals may go with Moylan and then Alburquerque.