Royals Reveal 2024 Opening Day Starter in Thrilling Move

The Royals officially named Cole Ragans the opening day starter
The Royals officially named Cole Ragans the opening day starter / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Expectations are soaring for the Royals heading into the 2024 season in large part due to a potential continued breakout from starting pitcher Cole Ragans.

After coming over to Kansas City in a mid-season trade with Aroldis Chapman, the former Texas Ranger was one of the best pitchers in MLB over the second half of the season. Now, he'll get the nod as the Royals' opening day starter against the Twins on March 28.

If Ragans' form last year was a sign of things to come, Kansas City is in fantastic shape to compete throughout the summer of 2024.

Royals Officially Reveal 2024 Opening Day Starter

This is a big deal for the Royals and signals an unquestioned belief in Ragans. He's drawing national buzz as a potential Cy Young candidate and it's noteworthy that Kansas City elected to give him the nod instead of offseason additions Michael Wacha or Seth Lugo, especially given the latter two's proven experience.

I believe that Ragans is the foundational piece of the pitching staff, serving a similar role that Bobby Witt Jr. does for position players. There was worry that he couldn't handle the pressure of leading a staff or that his breakout last year was due to a small sample size, though the organization is putting those concerns to rest with this move.

He ranked in the 85th percentile in expected batting average in 2023, 89th in fastball velocity and 85th in strikeout percentage. With a fastball reaching triple digits on the radar gun and multiple nasty off-speed pitches, Ragans routinely shut down opposing lineups and could quickly prove he's one of the best starters in baseball.

I'm thrilled about this move. It truly looks like the Royals are ready to take a massive step forward this year and potentially even compete for the AL Central crown.

Kansas City currently has +850 odds to win the division. They're not expected to make the playoffs, but those odds will quickly become a steal if Ragans proves to be a top-of-the-rotation ace like I think he will.

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