“Reporter Jottings”: The Beat of KC; Hernandez; and Singer’s Return

It’s mid-August which means school is starting back up, and thus, my ability to write has been somewhat stymied as I prepare for the return of students to the school building. So instead of an in-depth post, I am just going to jot down a few notes (i.e. “jottings”) about some brief thoughts regarding the Royals over the past week:

Appearance on “The Beat of KC”

Luca Murphy runs “The Beat of KC” and is the new guy on the block when it comes to producing KC sports content. However, he’s doing some amazing stuff and if you’re not following him, you need to do so right now, especially if you’re all about Chiefs and Royals content. It’s nice to see a guy who is pretty positive and passionate about all KC sports, which isn’t easy to do, especially with the Royals (who are currently again in last place in the AL Central, unfortunately).

Lucas had me on this week and we had a great conversation about a whole bunch of different topics regarding the Royals, which ranged from Edward Olivares and his endless journey up and down I-29; MJ Melendez and his future in Kansas City; and their chances of competing next year. You can find it all down in the video below:

Carlos Hernandez’s stellar start against the Yankees

I was able to go in person to the Yankees game on Monday and the story of the night was Carlos Hernandez and his sudden resurgence as perhaps the “ace” of the Royals rotation, something that seemed unthinkable at the beginning of the year (even though he did make the Opening Day roster). Once thought as a bullpen option, Hernandez has really developed to become one of the Royals’ more dependable starters, which is promising for a guy who is still 24-years-old.

Take a look at what Nick Kappel posted about Hernandez this season, and pay attention at what Hernandez has done since being recalled from Omaha on June 9th.

Hernandez’s start against the Yankees may have been his best start yet, especially considering the firepower in the Yankees lineup. Hernandez was efficient against the Bronx Bombers as he went 6.2 IP and only allowed five hits and one run while striking out three and walking only one. However, when taking a look at his pitcher breakdown via Baseball Savant, Hernandez’s outing looks more impressive, especially from a CSW (Called Strikes plus Whiffs) end.

As Royals fans can see, Hernandez not only utilized five pitches against the Yankees, but generated a 30-plus CSW on four of those pitches. A 30-plus CSW on any pitch is pretty elite level, and to have that rate on four pitches shows the potential Hernandez can have as a member of the Royals rotation.

A big development has been the increased and more effective usage of his fastball, which I talked about in another post about Hernandez a little while ago before this most recent start. Even though he didn’t always have the best velocity on his four-seamer on August 9th, he was able to command it well against the Yankees, with this backward strikeout of Andrew Velazquez being a prime example of Hernandez sacrificing some velocity for better command:

It’s still early, and who knows how Hernandez will finish the year. But honestly, if he continues to grow as a pitcher and gain confidence in his command, it wouldn’t be out of the question to think that Hernandez could be the Royals’ Opening Day pitcher in 2022.

Brady Singer and his struggles post-All Star Break

If Hernandez is having a resurgence as the possible “ace” of the Royals rotation for 2022, Brady Singer, who recently returned off the IL, may be trending in the wrong direction.

In Singer’s last two starts after the All-Star Break, Singer is posting a 19.06 ERA and has given up 18 hits and 12 runs in only 5.2 IP. Royals fans read that right. He has given up nearly 20 hits in less than six innings of work. That isn’t going to cut it, especially considering the depth in the Royals rotation.

Here is a pitcher breakdown from Savant that takes a look at how Singer fared in his last rough start against the New York Yankees on August 11th.

As Royals fans can see, of the 67 pitches Singer threw, 65 of them were sinkers or sliders. While he did generate a decent overall CSW at 28 percent, he still struggled with command, as Yankees hitters were able to take advantage of Singer’s pitches in and around the strike zone.

Here’s a look at Singer’s pitch result chart which includes how Yankees hitters garnered their hits and runs off of Singer at Kauffman Stadium:

The pitch chart is interesting. He didn’t give up a lot of barrels or hits that typically do a lot of damage (i.e. not a lot of home runs). However, he was grooving them in one part of the zone, and the Yankees hitters just took advantage. Here is a look at Singer throwing a sinker right in the lower end of the zone against Aaron Judge that just catches too much of the plate, and Judge is able to hit it with an exit velocity over 100 MPH:

The problem for Singer continues to be his lack of a third pitch.

If that’s a changeup on that pitch in the GIF above? Maybe he gets Judge to whiff there instead of lining one to center. That being said, it seems like Singer is uncomfortable throwing the changeup, and that puts tremendous pressure on Singer to command his sinker and slider effectively, which he hasn’t been able to do the past two starts.

I am not giving up on Singer in the rotation long-term just yet, but there are definitely some concerning signs for Singer this year. He seems to be regressing with each and every start, especially since July. It will be interesting to see what Mike Matheny and Cal Eldred will do to help him get out of this funk, but after only throwing one changeup in his last start, I am not sure there is much they can do at this point that will produce anything different from what Royals fans have seen lately from Singer, unfortunately.

If Singer is going to make any major changes, it might not come until the off-season, which makes next Spring even more crucial for his long-term future in Kansas City.

Photo Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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