The future may not be now for the Kansas City Royals, but it’s certainly going to be on display over the next three games.
The Royals open a three-game series against the New York Yankees on Monday with their young pitching on full display. Rookie Carlos Hernandez (3-1, 4.58 ERA) will take the mound against the Yankees’ Jameson Taillon (7-4, 4.04 ERA) in a battle of right-handers.
Tuesday’s game will feature Royals left-hander Daniel Lynch against Yankees lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. On Wednesday, the Royals will send right-hander Brady Singer against an as-yet-unannounced Yankees starter.
The three Royals pitchers, plus Sunday’s starter, Kris Bubic, are all age 25 or younger. Add in Brad Keller, who turned 26 in late July, and there is plenty of young pitching in the Royals’ system.
The inexperienced staff figures to get a stern test against the Yankees, who saw their five-game winning streak end Sunday with a 2-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners. New York averaged 7.2 runs during the five victories.
The Royals led 5-1 entering the seventh inning Sunday at St. Louis before holding off the Cardinals for a 6-5 win.
Bubic allowed one run in 4 2/3 innings, pulling a major escape in the fourth. He loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter with no outs. Bubic induced a 1-2-3 double-play before ending the inning with an infield popup and a fist-pump.
“That fourth was probably as good a job as we’ve seen all season of getting out of a mess,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “That had the makings of something really ugly. He ended up making a play himself to keep himself and us in the game.
“It was one of those days when he didn’t have his best stuff. He found a way to fight through.”
The Royals should have Salvador Perez in the lineup Monday. The All-Star catcher left the game after a two-hour-plus rain delay. He missed his first game of the season Friday, and Matheny said he was just wiped out.
“He’s been under the weather the past couple of days,” the manager said. “Everything just got him. He may be the toughest player I’ve ever been around.”
Taillon is in his first year with the Yankees after spending his first four major league seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has made 20 starts for the Yankees and won his past six decisions.
Taillon threw 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in an 8-1 home win over the Royals on June 24. In two career starts vs. Kansas City, he is 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA, 17 strikeouts and three walks in 13 1/3 innings.
The Yankees will be short-handed with several players on the COVID-19-related injured list. On Sunday, first baseman Anthony Rizzo was added to the list, joining catcher Gary Sanchez and pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Gerrit Cole.
“You gotta roll,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “We will continue to do the best we can with it and try to navigate it and deal with it.
“(Rizzo) has been terrific for us in every way. I just spoke with him. He is doing all right. He has some symptoms. Obviously, (he is) a little bummed out. Hopefully, he will get rested up and well and be back hopefully sooner rather than later and back to impacting us.”
Hernandez enters his outing against the Yankees with wins in each of his past two starts. In those outings, both against the Chicago White Sox, he allowed a total of one run on six hits in 11 innings. He struck out 10 and walked three.
The only time he has opposed the Yankees in his young career, Hernandez came out of the bullpen and blew a lead on June 23. He gave up two runs in two innings.
–Field Level Media