The Royals haven’t announced who their fifth starter is going to be so let’s take a deeper look at some of those guys who might be the man. Currently the Royals have a TBD listed as the Wednesday night starter. That mystery man will go between Junis and Lopez against the Mariners.
Here are your options. Heath Fillmyer, Scott Barlow, Arnaldo Hernandez, and Glenn Sparkman. Each guy honestly could be the guy. If you go by the way it lines up, Fillmyer is scheduled to start for Omaha on Tuesday and Hernandez is scheduled to start for Omaha on Wednesday which would make Hernandez the guy. It would be just as easy to have the Storm Chasers go with a bullpen day or give Sparkman the Triple-A start on Tuesday if you wanted to Fillmyer.
Barlow is on the 25-man roster already throwing in relief for the Royals and Sparkman is throwing in relief for Omaha. Going with Barlow would be the easiest and would allow the Royals to move things around easily making sure he had the proper rest in the days leading up to the Wednesday start. Barlow looked good last year before an injury (oblique I think?) cut him down and forced him to give up his chance. Barlow also had a strong start for Team USA on the Japanese Tour this off-season as well as having a pretty strong spring training.
I really thought Fillmyer was going to be a shoo-in for the spot because of how Ned Yost and Cal Eldred talked about their plans for Fillmyer in spring training but he didn’t perform up to par. I still think he is the first option. Fillmyer made 13 starts for the Royals in 2018. His season stats show a 4-2 record with 4.26 ERA, 4.60 xFIP, and 1.34 WHIP. Fillmyer only posted a 6.23 K/9 rate which is rather low.
Arnaldo Hernandez has some strong stuff with a fastball that can get up to 98. He mostly works 93-94 with a good curve and change. He is a guy I think could do well because he has the velocity to get away with mistakes and the deception to get MLB level hitters out. He also basically skipped NWA and had no issues tackling Omaha which doesn’t mean he won’t have issues with the Royals, it just gives the impression he is flexible and mentally tough.
Sparkman is probably the biggest long shot to get this start. He is usually adequate two times through a lineup and has pitched in the big leagues over the last two years. He made three starts in 2018 for the Royals. Last year he had a 4.46 ERA, 4.73 xFIP, but a 1.62 WHIP while only posting a 6.34 K/9.
The Royals have a few days to make the decision and to decide what they want to do with their roster. It’ll be interesting to see which farmhand Yost decides to go with. Does he give the young flame-thrower with no big league experience the chance or does he use one of the guys with experience already? Who would you pick? Let’s hear it in the comments or on twitter @RoyalsFarm and @AwzRocks.
Image from MLB.com.