The Royals’ rotation took another hit on Tuesday when the team placed starting pitcher Mike Montgomery and reliever Foster Griffin on the 10-day Injured List. To replace the two pitchers on the roster, the Royals added pitcher Jake Newberry and outfielder Nick Heath to the active roster.
Montgomery lasted just two innings in his start against the Tigers on Monday, giving up five runs, including a home run. The 31-year old left-hander had struggled in his last exhibition outing and Fangraphs had his fastball down significantly in his start against the Tigers, with an average velocity of 88 mph. According to MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan, Montgomery has a lat strain. The Royals acquired Montgomery last summer in a trade with the Cubs for catcher Martín Maldonado.
Griffin came in relief on Monday to make his MLB debut - on his birthday, no less - and pitched 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings to pick up the win. However he left the game with a left forearm strain. The 25-year old former first-round pick had a 5.23 ERA in 130 2/3 innings for Triple-A Omaha in the hitter-happy Pacific Coast League.
Jake Newberry has a 4.06 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 25 walks in 44 1⁄3 innings over the last two season with the Royals. The 25-year old right-hander finished strong last year, with a 3.00 ERA over his last 16 outings, although he walked 13 batters in 15 innings.
Outfielder Nick Heath is a speedster who graduated from Junction City High School in Kansas before going to Northwestern State University in Louisiana where he was drafted in the 16th round of the 2016 draft by the Royals. He led all minor leaguers in stolen bases last year with 60, hitting .255/.345/.387 with 8 home runs and 36 RBI across Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha. Heath is 26-years old and bats left-handed.
The loss of Montgomery leaves Danny Duffy and Brady Singer as the only confirmed starters in the rotation. Brad Keller and Jakob Junis are both out for 2-3 weeks as they get ready for the season, after missing Summer Camp due to positive COVID-19 tests.
The Royals did start right-hander Ronald Bolaños in a short two-inning start on Sunday, and manager Mike Matheny indicated he would like to stretch him out for a longer start. Kyle Zimmer will make the start in Detroit tonight, the first of his MLB career. Other candidates to fill out the rotation could include Jorge López, Glenn Sparkman, or a bullpen game. The Royals did sign pitcher Matt Harvey to a minor league deal today, but it will take him some time to get ready for the season.