Kansas City Royals: What we learned after Kris Bubic’s first start

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JULY 31: Starting pitcher Kris Bubic #50 of the Kansas City Royals warms up prior to the game against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on July 31, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JULY 31: Starting pitcher Kris Bubic #50 of the Kansas City Royals warms up prior to the game against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on July 31, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The future is now for the Kansas City Royals, who called up Kris Bubic to start Friday’s game against the White Sox, which was the Royals’ home opener. What else did we learn about the boys in blue in game number eight?

One full week of Kansas City Royals baseball is in the books and gosh it feels good to have sports back again and it especially feels good to have Royals baseball back at Kauffman Stadium, even if we couldn’t be there in the stadium.

The major storyline in Friday night’s game was that it was the Major League debut of Kris Bubic, who pitched at Stanford in college and flew up the minor league ladder to get to this point. He hadn’t made a single start in Double-A or Triple-A for the Royals, but chances are that isn’t the case if this season began back in March like it was supposed to.

The Royals might not have won on Friday, dropping to 3-5 on the year, but this game certainly wasn’t all bad. What did we learn about the 2020 Royals?

Kris Bubic was the headliner and the future rotation is starting to form for the Kansas City Royals.

Bubic didn’t get off to a great start, allowing a double to his first ever batter and then walking the next batter on four straight balls. With two men on and zero outs, Bubic managed to get out of the first inning without any damage. Ryan Lefebvre mentioned that perhaps that was good for Bubic because it showed him he could get out of a jam if he needed to.

Unfortunately, the second inning didn’t go as great for Bubic. A runner reached due to a Nicky Lopez fielding error and then Bubic hit the next batter, putting two men on base. Not long after, Adam Engel cranked a three-run homer to left field and it was 3-0 White Sox.

Bubic managed to pitch a scoreless third and fourth, but the damage was done unfortunately. The worst part of that is that if Lopez hadn’t made that error, it’d have likely only been a two-run homer and there’s still a chance Bubic could have avoided the loss on his Major League resumé.

All in all though, the debut was decent for the Stanford product. He pitched four innings, allowed two earned runs, and struck out three. His ERA now sits at 4.50.

The Kansas City Royals bullpen continues to impress.

Out of all of the surprising storylines this season, the Royals bullpen actually being good is the biggest. They pitched five scoreless innings on Friday and continue to give fans confidence each and every time Mike Matheny hands things over to them.

On Friday we saw Tyler Zuber, Scott Barlow, Josh Staumont, Trevor Rosenthal, and Greg Holland exit the pen and enter the game. Zuber notched two strikeouts, Barlow needed just nine pitches to get through the sixth inning, Staumont lowered his ERA to 2.25, Rosenthal pitched his second night in a row, and Holland took the familiar role of pitching the ninth (but in a non-save situation obviously).

While things won’t be this way for the entire season, this bullpen has really been a pleasant surprise.

The offense struggled, but there were some positives.

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The Royals only scored two runs on the night and couldn’t muster up a third run to tie things late. It wasn’t like the Royals didn’t hit the ball and have runners in scoring position though, which made things more frustrating for all of us watching at home.

Kansas City had eight hits and poor Maikel Franco always seemed to come to the plate whenever there were runners in scoring position. He went 0-for-4 and left seven runners on base. Franco probably wishes he was back in Detroit right now, where he was mashing.

Speaking of the ol’ “oh-fer”, Whit Merrifield went 0-for-5 and is in a slump right now (despite hitting .281 on the young season). Alex Gordon went 0-for-4 and had some brutal at bats, but we can forgive him for saving a run in the seventh inning.

Now onto the positives!

Ryan McBroom hit his first Major League home run and everyone on Twitter broke out the McBoom jokes and thought they were original (myself included). McBroom’s bomb made it a 3-2 game, which ended up being the final score. McBroom went 2-for-4 on the night.

Salvador Perez went 3-for-4 and plated an RBI. Jorge Soler‘s average is up to .286 now after he went 1-for-2.

When push came to shove, the Royals just couldn’t get the tying run across the plate.

It’s been frustrating to see the Royals lose so many close games early on in the season. No, they’re not going to be a playoff team, but it would have been nice to steal a few wins and be in a better spot right now.

A 3-5 record isn’t atrocious and the Royals have two more cracks at the White Sox and a chance to win their first series of the season. They’ll have to hit better in order to do that though because two runs isn’t going to cut it.

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The good news is that Kris Bubic pitched well and while the jitters were definitely present for the young pitcher, his debut is nothing to scoff at. He’ll only get better as the season goes on.

Eight games down, 52 to go!