Royals manager Ned Yost said Wednesday that he was “leaning” toward offering right-hander Chris Young another spot start.
The Royals will need a fifth starter for at least one more turn through the rotation as Ian Kennedy recovers from a strained right hamstring. Kennedy is eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list on Monday. Young could start again Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles at Kauffman Stadium. The official decision will come later this week.
“I got a few days,” Yost said, before adding: “I’m leaning more toward C.Y. right now in our park.”
Young yielded four earned runs in the first inning on Tuesday while lasting three innings on a pitch count in the 65-to-70-range. His ERA jumped to 5.93 in 13 2/3 innings this season. In his last 14 starts, dating back to last season, he has allowed 49 earned runs and 27 homers in 59 innings pitched.
Left-hander Travis Wood could also be an option, Yost said.
One pitcher who will not be considered is left-hander Mike Minor, who threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief on Tuesday. Minor, a 29-year-old former starter with the Atlanta Braves, shifted to the bullpen after nagging shoulder issues derailed his career during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Minor underwent an exploratory surgical procedure in 2015 and had a slight labrum tear repaired. He signed a two-year deal with the Royals before the 2016 season and spent most of the season rehabbing in the minor leagues.
Minor has already logged one three-inning appearance and thrown 2 2/3 innings twice. But for now, the Royals see a ceiling in how many pitches he can throw. So they will continue to exercise caution with his assignments.
“I want to get a full season or at least half a season under his belt to get his arm and shoulder built up,” Yost said. “He hadn’t pitched in the big leagues in a while. Last year, he was really, really effective to about the 60-pitch mark, which doesn’t work as a starter. So if you continue to build his shoulder up like we’re doing, down the road, could he be a starter? Quite possibly.”
Minor lowered his ERA to 2.50 in 18 innings after Tuesday’s performance. He has also recorded 18 strikeouts. He could potentially offer three innings as a starting pitcher. But Yost said he preferred a pitcher with the ability to go deeper.
“I don’t want to take a chance,” Yost said. “He’s doing too well. I want to keep him right in the role that he’s at.”