Royals stay with Heath Fillmyer in fifth starters spot in pitching rotation

Royals recall Heath Fillmyer from Triple-A

Pitcher Heath Fillmyer rejoined the Royals from Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. He made 13 starts with the team in 2018, but he'd been sent to Triple-A out of spring training to start the 2019 season.
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Pitcher Heath Fillmyer rejoined the Royals from Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. He made 13 starts with the team in 2018, but he'd been sent to Triple-A out of spring training to start the 2019 season.

Royals right-hander Heath Fillmyer hasn’t had the greatest start to his season in the majors this year, but he’ll get a chance to flip the script after having gone just three innings (plus three batters) in his first start of the season last week.

Royals manager Ned Yost had mentioned several possible candidates to start Monday’s series opener in Chicago against the White Sox, including Scott Barlow and Glenn Sparkman. Ultimately, Yost chose to give Fillmyer the opportunity to stay in the rotation.

“I wanted to give him another shot, simple as that,” Yost said. “He pitched really, really well for us last year, so give him another shot. I wanted to give him another opportunity to pitch and we’ll see what he does.”

Fillmyer, who went 4-2 for the Royals last season after being called up from the minors, began this season at Triple-A Omaha. After getting called up last week, he faced the hottest lineup in baseball in the Mariners on Wednesday. He gave up five runs on six hits and two walks. He allowed the first three batters to reach in the fourth inning before he got pulled from the game.

Asked about primary takeaways from that start against the Mariners, Fillmyer said, “Just to be myself and not try to get out of my comfort zone, not try to do too much. I think if I attack these guys like I always do and use the stuff the way I can, I’ll be fine.”

Fillmyer said he certainly wanted to be careful with certain hitters in the Seattle lineup in terms of staying away from certain spots of the plate, but he probably went too far by trying to be “too perfect” on every pitch.

“(It’s) trying to use too much information that you might have on these guys and try to incorporate it into every at-bat, which is kind of what I do,” Fillmyer said. “But if I just kind of keep it simple, stay aggressive and learn from their swings, I’ll be fine.”

Fillmyer had six days between starts leading up to his outing against the Mariners. Because of the one-week gap between the beginning of the seasons in the majors and minors (minors start later), Fillmyer did most of his pitching in intersquad games, in bullpens and side sessions after his last spring training outing.

Fillmyer said he was looking forward to how his body responds to getting back to pitching every fifth day, and Yost said getting back in that routine often helps a pitcher’s sharpness.

Backup catcher Cam Gallagher started behind the plate in Fillmyer’s previous start in part because of his familiarity with Fillmyer. On Monday, Fillmyer is likely to throw to starting catcher Martin Maldonado for the first time.

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Hamilton making strides: Royals center fielder Billy Hamilton isn’t in the lineup for Sunday, but he’s available as a defensive replacement, if needed, and could start Monday in Chicago.

“He’s going to be sore, and he’s going to be stiff for a while,” Yost said. “I wanted to give him a couple days here, see how he feels tomorrow. Probably have him back in the lineup tomorrow. It’s not like he’s going to be gone.”

Hamilton hasn’t played since running into the wall in center field at Kauffman Stadium in the ninth inning of Thursday afternoon’s loss to the Seattle Mariners.

CarGo in KCMO: The Cleveland Indians selected the contract of outielder Carlos González from Triple-A Columbus prior to Sunday’s game. They also optioned Saturday’s starting pitcher Jefry Rodríguez to Triple-A Columbus and transferred right-handed pitcher Mike Clevinger to 60-day injured list. Gonzalez, who the Indians signed as a free agent, was a three-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner and two-time Silver Slugger with the Colorado Rockies. He also won the 2010 National League batting title.

Ned Yost addresses reporters post-game after pitcher Homer Bailey and the bullpen were dominant in 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday, April 13, 2019.

Sunday’s lineup

1. Whit Merrifield, 2b

2. Adalberto Mondesi, ss

3. Alex Gordon, lf

4. Jorge Soler, rf

5. Ryan O’Hearn, 1b

6. Hunter Dozier, 3b

7. Lucas Duda, dh

8. Cam Gallagher, c

9. Chris Owings, cf

Starting pitcher Jakob Junis (rh, 1-1, 5.74)

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.