In a normal year, Kansas City Royals rookie Kris Bubic probably wouldn’t have made his major league debut by this point in the season. In a normal year, after starting the season 0-4 with a 5.96 ERA through five starts, Bubic likely would have been sent down to one of his team’s minor league affiliates.
But 2020 is anything but a normal year.
Bubic and the Royals will conclude a three-game series in Chicago Sunday afternoon as the Royals try to win a series against the red-hot White Sox. Even though the Royals defeated the Sox 9-6 Saturday afternoon, Chicago is 10-2 over its last 12 games.
The White Sox will send rookie Dane Dunning (0-0, 6.23 ERA) to the mound. Dunning came to the White Sox with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez in the trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals following the 2016 season.
Bubic had not pitched above Class A in his brief professional career before this season. But with two starting pitchers, Brad Keller and Jakob Junis, beginning the season on the injured list as they built up strength from positive COVID-19 tests during the summer training camp, the Royals’ rotation was thin.
When Mike Montgomery went on the 60-day IL after just one start, Kansas City had little choice other than giving Bubic a shot. He made his major league debut July 31 against the White Sox, going four innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits. The Royals have yet to win one of Bubic’s starts.
“Hopefully, by the end of the year, I can look back on a day like this and laugh at it,” he said after his last start, in which he allowed four runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings against the Twins. “(I’ll) figure out how much I learned, and not worry about the results of it. I don’t want to dig too deep into it.”
The 2018 first-round Royals draft pick has allowed multiple runs in all five of his starts. Part of the problem has been walks, as he has given 10 free passes in 22 2/3 innings.
Compared to Dunning, however, Bubic is a wily veteran. Dunning has made one only appearance, a start against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 19. He allowed three runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out seven. The next day, he was optioned to the club’s alternate site. He will have to be activated prior to Sunday’s game.
“We want to keep him working, and then we’ll see where we’re at when we get to that point again,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said of the decision. “We’ve always liked him, and unfortunately, the injury bug got him a little bit, but I thought he showed very, very well.”
If the game gets close at the end, the Royals may be scrambling for a closer. Besides Saturday’s trade of Trevor Rosenthal, who was 7-of-7 in save situations this season, the Royals also probably lost Ian Kennedy with a calf injury. Kennedy was fielding a slow roller up the first base line when he appeared to pull a calf muscle.
Manager Mike Matheny said that a stint on the Injured List is likely.
“It’s the same calf that bothered him before, but he got it pretty good this time,” Matheny said. “I’d say it’s a potential (IL move) for sure.”
–Field Level Media