After a brief recess, the judges have conferred and Opening Day really was just one game and the Royals may now resume playing baseball and allegedly competing for the playoffs. The Royals will send 70-million-dollar man Ian Kennedy to the mound to face off against White Sox former much-hyped pitching prospect Lucas Giolito.
Giolito has just barely passed his rookie eligibility by pitching 66.2 innings over the last 2 years. He pitched very well in 7 starts for the White Sox, last season, striking out 34 in 45.1 innings to earn a 2.38 ERA. His spring numbers were very similar and he could turn out to be a very good pitcher indeed.
Kennedy, as most will remember, was terrible last year. It was his first full season of pitching in which his ERA ended up over 5 but a nagging leg injury suffered early in the year may have been the cause of many of struggles. During Spring Training of this year, he struck out 23 batters in only 18 innings across 5 starts for a promising 2.30 ERA. Of course, his ERA last spring was 1.50 and in 2016, when he was actually quite good, his spring ERA was 6.30. Just in case you needed a reminder that spring stats don’t mean much.
#Royals vs RHP Giolito:— Joel Goldberg (@goldbergkc) March 31, 2018
The Royals have their second lineup of the year, so far, and the only real change is to replace Jorge Soler with Paulo Orlando. It’s only one game, but since the Royals are playing more for future seasons than this year this will be an important thing to keep your eye on. If Soler is healthy - which, admittedly, is a big if - but can’t get more playing time than Orlando it will signal a huge failing on the Royals part in one of two ways. Either they’ve since learned it was useless to have acquired him, especially for the cost, or they are failing to play him and give him a chance to succeed.