CHICAGO — Right-hander Brady Singer will go to Triple-A Omaha to get stretched out as a starter after the Royals optioned him Thursday afternoon as part of a flurry of pregame moves.
With shortstop Adalberto Mondesi headed to the injured list (left ACL tear), the Royals recalled outfielder Kyle Isbel and infielder Emmanuel Rivera. Isbel started in right field Thursday as Whit Merrifield moved to second base and Nicky Lopez to shortstop, and Rivera will be a bat off the bench and an infield backup now that the Royals are down Mondesi.
That left one more corresponding move to be made, and with rosters reducing to 26 (with a max of 14 pitchers) on Monday, the Royals decided to send Singer down ahead of time so he can start for Omaha this weekend.
“He’s been throwing the ball really, really well,” president of baseball operations Dayton Moore said. “I think the shortened Spring Training probably didn’t do him any good. He didn’t get enough reps. We made a decision to go with some other people in the rotation, and to keep him in the bullpen simply doesn’t make sense. He’s too talented, too much a part of our future.”
Singer, Kansas City’s first-round Draft pick in 2018, made his debut in 2020 and was a mainstay in the Royals’ rotation for the past two years. This spring, the Royals decided to put him in the bullpen to begin the season because of the unknown of how stretched out their starters would be; they wanted length in the bullpen in case they had to bridge the gap between a short start and the later innings.
The way the first month of the season has played out, though, hasn’t given Singer as many innings as the Royals thought he would get. The rotation — Zack Greinke, Daniel Lynch, Brad Keller, Carlos Hernández and Kris Bubic — have pitched significant innings, for the most part, and scheduled off-days and rainouts have given the Royals a rested and healthy bullpen.
Singer has made just three appearances and pitched 5 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old pitched the final two innings of the Royals’ win on Tuesday and allowed one hit with two strikeouts and no walks. He’s shown an improvement with his sinker after moving his grip more to the side of the ball, which offers even more movement than the pitch typically has. The new grip allows Singer better control of that movement. His slider has been effective, and he feels comfortable with his changeup.
That changeup is key to his success as a starter, offering a third pitch to opponents, but he hasn’t been able to throw it in short stints.
“You never know how April is going to work, wondering if we were going to be able to get guys the work that they need,” manager Mike Matheny said. “It just hasn’t turned into the repetitions that he needs. He needs to go pitch. So I know it’s not ideal. He wants to be a part of this team. We want him a part of this team, but the best thing for Brady right now is to pitch, to get the repetitions.”
Moore emphasized that the Royals are happy with their rotation right now and believe Bubic, who has allowed 11 earned runs in seven innings and three starts so far, will turn things around. But the organization does see Singer as part of their future rotation, and he’ll likely be one of the first options if they need a spot start.
“We had some off-days and rain days, so now he’s not stretched out to our liking to put him in the rotation,” Moore said. “We feel good about where our rotation is. Kris hasn’t thrown the ball the way he would expect and we would expect at this point, but we’ll see how that goes going forward. But we want to have as many options as we can in the rotation as we move forward.”