The Kansas City Royals start Spring Training next week and have their roster pretty well set. The non-roster invitees have been announced and there seems little chance of another free agent signing. This makes it a good time to look at the players who will be preparing for the season and where each of them will probably be on 1 April.
The obvious place to start is with the pitchers an the Royals do have a lot of them in camp this year. There are 25 on the 40-man roster (including two who are still recovering from injury) and another nine non-roster invitees. The analysis for them has thus been broken up into several parts, of which this is the fifth. I look at how the player has done, their role in the club and in some cases what they have to do in Spring Training before predicting where they will be on Opening Day.
Kelvin Herrera is a right-haded reliever with a very powerful fastball. There is a good chance he will be the primary set up man next year, but that role hasn’t been set in stone yet. Certainly though, he will be coming out of the bullpen fairly late, and usually when the Royals have a lead.
Prediction: Only injury could stop him from being on the Opening Day roster.
Luke Hochevar is one of the most enigmatic pitchers in baseball and not in a good way. The former first-round draft pick has enormous amounts of talent, but has never been able to pitch consistently at the big league level. He had an ERA over five in 2012, despite some incredibly dominating performances. The fact that the Royals tendered him a contract at all shows that they are willing to stick with him though, at least for now. This may be his last chance to prove himself, however. He goes into Spring Training competing for the fifth starter’s role after being the nominal ace just two years ago.
Prediction: It will be a tough battle, but I think he will get the fifth starter’s job.
Greg Holland started 2012 as one of the Royals’ set up men and was given the closer’s role at the beginning of August. He proved to be the find of the year for the club, as he did an outstanding job in the last two months and was so good that the Royals let former closer Joakim Soria go.
Prediction: Opening Day closer, barring a disaster in Spring Training.