Young starting pitchers take hill as Royals face Orioles

MLB

The visiting Kansas City Royals will give Jackson Kowar a chance to repeat his latest effort Tuesday as they take on the Baltimore Orioles.

Back in June, the right-hander endured a poor major league debut. Kowar (0-2, 9.82 ERA) gave up four earned runs on three hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning in Anaheim, Calif.

Kowar, 24, was marginally better in his next two starts, but by the time he was sent back to Triple-A Omaha after three outings, he owned an 18.00 ERA.

He struggled early on in Omaha, but he figured out enough to get a second chance with the big-league club. When he made his re-debut Wednesday against Cleveland, he allowed just two runs on five hits in six innings to get his ERA under 10.

Baltimore (43-93) will hand the ball to Alexander Wells (1-2, 7.71 ERA).

The Royals (62-75) came from behind twice Monday en route to a 3-2 victory. Former Oriole Hanser Alberto homered in the fifth to erase a 1-0 deficit. Then Salvador Perez blooped a game-tying single over a drawn-in infield in the eighth. Perez pulled level with the Chicago White Sox’s Jose Abreu for the major league lead in RBIs with 103.

Perez then scored the game-winning run on a single by Andrew Benintendi.

Zac Lowther, who was recalled from the minors to make the Monday start for the Orioles, was very effective. The left-hander allowed one run on three hits in six innings.

“I just want to show them that there was a reason I was put on this team,” Lowther said after the game. “Being able to kind of finish this year strong is my main point, and being able to show them that this is what I’m here to offer.”

Kowar is one of four current Royals starters selected in the first round of the 2018 draft. Two, Brady Singer and Monday’s starter, Kris Bubic, made their debuts in 2020. The other two, Kowar and Daniel Lynch, appeared for the first time this year.

All four have had their ups and downs, but the future looks bright for the Royals, especially when you add 2020 fourth-overall pick Asa Lacy and “veteran” Brad Keller, who just turned 26.

Kowar’s turnaround may have been the most impressive, and manager Mike Matheny says Kowar just needs to trust his stuff.

“Just like I talk about with all of them, he has a plus fastball and I don’t think he was trusting it the first go-round,” Matheny said. “I think he, like most young pitchers, he was giving the league too much credit. He was relying on his changeup and never really established his fastball.

“In the last game there was a radical transformation. Every time he was given an assignment, he seemed to take it to heart. The development guys did a nice job of helping him take that next step. And the last piece was that he was watching his buddies have some success. That pushes you to think, ‘I can do that, too.’

“I saw that confidence. I saw Jackson get into counts where he needed to challenge a major league hitter and he went right at him.”

Wells, 24, has struggled more as a starter than out of the bullpen. In three starts, he has allowed 13 runs in 13 innings. He has yielded three runs in 5 2/3 innings of relief work.

Neither starter has previously faced his Tuesday opponent.

–Field Level Media

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