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Fillmyer demotion, Duffy injury may mean Royals start with a three-man rotation

So many off days means the Royals won’t need so many starting pitchers.

Kansas City Royals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Royals have optioned right-handed pitcher Heath Fillmyer to Omaha to begin the year, giving us a better idea of how the rotation will be set up to begin the year. Fillmyer will actually stay behind in Arizona to get some more work in, according to reporter Jeffrey Flanagan, and could be up with the Royals again by the time a fifth starter is need in the second week of the season.

Flangan also reports Jorge Lopez and Homer Bailey will also get some extra work this week in Arizona, although they could still make the Opening Day roster. Lopez would have to be on the roster as he is out of options. Ned Yost indicated he may begin the year with a three-man rotation, which could be possibly because the Royals have so many off-days to begin the year. Here is how the rotation could begin the season:

How the Royals’ rotation could begin the season

Day Date Opponent Pitcher
Day Date Opponent Pitcher
Thursday March 28 vs.White Sox Brad Keller
Friday March 29 OFF DAY OFF
Saturday March 30 vs.White Sox Jakob Junis
Sunday March 31 vs.White Sox Jorge Lopez
Monday April 1 OFF DAY OFF
Tuesday April 2 vs.Twins Brad Keller
Wednesday April 3 vs.Twins Homer Bailey
Thursday April 4 at Tigers Jakob Junis
Friday April 5 OFF DAY OFF
Saturday April 6 at Tigers Jorge Lopez
Sunday April 7 at Tigers Brad Keller
Monday April 8 vs.Mariners Homer Bailey
Tuesday April 9 vs.Mariners Jakob Junis
Wednesday April 10 vs.Mariners Fifth Starter

The Royals were hoping that Danny Duffy could be recovered from his shoulder stiffness in time to pitch by the time a fifth starter is needed, but according to Flanagan, Duffy will need to complete a minor league rehab assignment first, which could delay his return until late April.

Going with a three-man rotation to begin the season could allow the Royals to add another bullpen piece or even another bench player to the roster in the first two weeks. They also would not need to add Homer Bailey to the 40-man roster until his scheduled April 3 start. Bailey has an opt-out in his contract for March 25, but seems unlikely to use it as he seems assured of a roster spot.