Jackson Kowar, ranked by Baseball America as the 75th best prospect in the league, made his MLB debut for the Kansas City Royals against the Los Angeles Angels tonight. Kowar had dominated Triple-A Omaha to the tune of a 0.85 and a strikeout rate of nearly 34%. Joining Brady Singer, Kris Bubic, and Daniel Lynch as 2018 draftees to start a game for that big league club in the same season, Kowar made history tonight—no other team in MLB history had pulled off that feat.
I’m not going to mince words here now, so be warned: thus ends the nice things that one can say about Kowar’s debut, because there are no nice things to say about his actual pitching. The Royals lost, 8-3, to an Angels team missing Mike Trout. Kowar accrued two outs in 39 pitches. Not only did he fail to strike out a batter, but he walked two and uncorked three wild pitches. He had zero control of his fastball, changeup, or curveball, and most of his many misfires were very clearly balls.
Alright, there are maybe two nice things to say about Kowar’s outing. The Angels didn’t really destroy him; in the five balls they put in play, none leapt off their bats at triple digit speed. And in plate appearances against Anthony Rendon and Jose Iglesias, Kowar made a few truly nice pitches that were just barely fouled off.
Still, at the end of the day, Kowar’s debut was simply a nightmare. After giving up four runs to the Angels, Mike Matheny solemnly trotted out to the mound to remove him in favor of long reliever (and former Angel) Ervin Santana. To be clear: a terrible debut does not doom anyone, and Kowar will rightfully earn more starts. But it is just frustrating to watch yet another Royals pitching prospect meet the bare minimum expectations on their shoulders right from the beginning.
As for the rest of the game, well, it was exactly as you might expect. When your starter gives up four runs and can’t get through the first inning, and you have to use the B team pitchers to try and mop things up for eight more innings, you’re not gonna win. Ervin Santana and Wade Davis combined for 6.1 innings pitched, thereby saving the rest of the bullpen. That was something. Also, Jorge Soler hit a home run...
...though it was his first RBI in over three weeks. Hunter Dozier went 3 for 4 and had a pair of pretty doubles, one of which scored a run. Um, Shohei Ohtani walked three times and his OPS is now .924. Salvador Perez had a pair of hits. It was a baseball game, and Royals fans would normally just forget that it happened by Wednesday except for the fact that it will forever loom as Kowar’s big league debut.
Anyway, the Royals have now lost three in a row and are at .500 again.