HEADLINE

Yost: Royals may use openers, but not yet vs. Jays

Field Level Media

July 29, 2019 at 4:50 am.

With the recent promotion of hard-throwing right-handers Josh Staumont and Kyle Zimmer to the major league roster, the Kansas City Royals may become the latest team to embrace the “opener” concept.

Both Staumont and Zimmer hit the upper-90s with their fastball, though both have struggled with commanding the pitch. That’s the right situation for an opener, even according to old-school manager Ned Yost.

“It’s definitely in the back of my mind,” the 64-year-old Yost said. “We’ve got to get settled down first. We’ve got to get Zim here, get him back into the flow of things. We need to get Staumont into the flow of things. Once we get settled in and the dust settles, then that’s something we’ll consider a lot more seriously.”

Yost previously has been less-than enthused about using an opener, but he now sees value.

“I think you have to have a power-arm guy and the right starter,” he said. “I think there is an advantage to getting through the first four or five guys in the order with a power-arm guy.

“… It’s a chance to bring power through the first inning or first five or six batters. Then you bring in a starter who has had good success at getting through the order two times. That eliminates having to get through the order three times.”

The Blue Jays have used openers, though it might be a slightly different model than the one originated by the Tampa Bay Rays. Four Toronto pitchers who have made at least one start have made less than 15 percent of their appearances in that role.

Monday’s starter, left-hander Thomas Pannone (2-4, 6.39 ERA), has made three starts among his 25 appearances, but has gone 2 2/3, 2 1/3 and 4 1/3 innings in those starts.

First-year manager Charlie Montoyo was on the Rays’ coaching staff before being hired by Toronto last November. He let everyone know early on that he wouldn’t carbon-copy Tampa Bay.

“Just because I come from Tampa Bay doesn’t mean we’re going to do everything that they did,” Montoyo explained during his introductory press conference. “We’re a different team and we’re going to adjust to what we have. We’ll put our brains together, talk about it and go from there.”

Neither Staumont nor Zimmer is scheduled to start for Kansas City in the series, at least at the moment.

Brad Keller (7-9, 3.95 ERA), who is on a personal four-game winning streak, including winning his last three starts, will get the nod for Monday’s first game. He threw seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 defeat of the Atlanta Braves in his last start on Wednesday.

The recently acquired Mike Montgomery, who spent most of the 2019 season in the bullpen with the Chicago Cubs, is scheduled to start on Tuesday.