Royals release veteran starting pitcher

royals release veteran starting pitcher

Washington Nationals pitcher Zach Davies.

The Royals have released veteran right-hander Zach Davies from his minor league contract, per the transaction log at MiLB.com. He’s pitched decently with Triple-A Omaha while the major league rotation has been a strength in Kansas City, so it’s possible Davies had a mid-May out clause in his minor league pact.

Davies, 31, signed with Kansas City back on April 8. He’d spent spring training with the Nationals but allowed 14 earned runs in 14 innings over four starts and was cut loose.

To some extent, he’s turned things around in Omaha, logging 21 innings (five starts) with a 4.29 ERA. A 12.9 percent strikeout rate and 9.7 percent walk rate combine to create skepticism about Davies’ work with the Royals’ top affiliate. He’s never been one to miss many bats, but those rates are subpar even by his own modest standards.

In 1,048 1/3 big league innings, Davies carries a 4.36 ERA (4.48 FIP, 4.80 SIERA). He had a particularly strong run with the Brewers and Padres from 2015-20, posting a 3.79 ERA and 4.18 FIP in 683 2/3 innings. Things have gone awry since then.

While Davies pitched more or less in line with his career norms in a 2022 season with the D-backs, that solid campaign was bookended by disastrous showings: a 5.78 ERA in 32 starts for the Cubs in 2021 as well as a 7.00 ERA in 18 starts with the 2023 D-backs.

Overall, Davies’ last three seasons have resulted in a combined 5.43 ERA. An apparent dip in his command has been the main culprit; Davies had a 6.9 percent walk rate from 2015-2020 but has seen that number spike to 10.3 percent since. He’s also become far more homer-prone, suggesting some imprecision even within the strike zone.

At the moment, Royals starters rank fourth in the majors with a 3.09 ERA and trail only the Phillies for the MLB lead in innings pitched. The quintet of Cole Ragans, Brady Singer, Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha and Alec Marsh has provided Kansas City with the sort of starting pitching stability the club has lacked for years.

Those five have started all but two of the team’s games this season. Daniel Lynch IV and Jonathan Bowlan each got one start while Marsh was on the 15-day IL with an elbow contusion he sustained when hit by a comebacker. He’s since returned from that brief IL stay.

With that strong output from the big league staff, there was no obvious path to the big leagues for Davies in Kansas City. However, with so many pitching injuries popping up around the sport, he’ll likely draw interest from other clubs seeking to deepen their rotation group.

The Red Sox, Rays, Rockies, Marlins and Davies’ former Brewers club all have multiple starters of note on the injured list, for instance.

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