AL Central Notes: Royals, Singer, Lynch, Tigers, Peralta, Pineda, Twins

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The Royals finalized their season-opening rotation yesterday, with manager Mike Matheny telling reporters (including Alec Lewis of the Athletic) that southpaw Daniel Lynch will claim the final spot behind Zack GreinkeBrad KellerKris Bubic and Carlos Hernández. Notably, that means right-hander Brady Singer — who has started all 39 of his MLB appearances — is set to work out of the bullpen initially. Matheny indicated the Royals still view Singer and righty Jackson Kowar as starting pitchers long-term, but it’ll be Lynch who gets the nod for now.

It’s a bit of a surprising move, as Singer is coming off the better season. Neither hurler had a good ERA in 2021, but Singer had a better strikeout and ground-ball rate than Lynch while issuing slightly fewer walks. Lynch generated a slightly higher whiff rate, but Singer was among the league’s best pitchers at picking up called strikes. Some evaluators raised concerns during Singer’s prospect days about whether his below-average changeup and lower arm slot could diminish his ability to turn a lineup over multiple times, but he’s not shown marked second or third times through the order splits in his career thus far. Injuries and/or underperformance to the front five figure to give Singer another rotation look in the near future.

More pitching updates from around the division:

  • The Tigers are planning to use Wily Peralta in relief this season, writes Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free-Press. The righty started 18 of 19 appearances with Detroit last year, posting a solid 3.07 ERA but an underwhelming 14.4% strikeout rate. The Tigers brought Peralta back on a minor league contract this spring. He seems likely to get another big league call fairly soon, but he was delayed in reporting to Spring Training because of visa issues and is set for further ramp-up work in the minors. The Tigers added Michael Pineda on a one-year big league deal to assume the final rotation spot behind Eduardo RodríguezCasey MizeTarik Skubal and Matt Manning. Pineda — held up by visa concerns of his own — consented to be optioned to Triple-A Toledo to open the year for more build-up time, giving Tyler Alexander the #5 spot for the season’s first couple weeks. Pineda tossed three innings for the Mud Hens yesterday, and Petzold notes he’s likely to make two more appearances there before being recalled to the majors.
  • The Twins made a last-minute addition to their rotation before Opening Day, acquiring Chris Paddack from the Padres in a deal that involved four MLB players changing hands. Minnesota already had a starting five of Sonny GrayJoe RyanDylan BundyBailey Ober and Chris Archer lined up, and manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters (including Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com) the Twins will roll with a six-man starting staff to open the season. Active rosters are expanded from 26 to 28 through April, giving teams flexibility to carry plenty of arms. Minnesota is also carrying top prospects Josh Winder and Jhoan Duran on the Opening Day roster, with both working in relief. Duran is expected to remain in that role (where he shined in two innings during his MLB debut this afternoon); Winder could be a rotation option down the line, and Baldelli said Winder could shoulder as much as five innings during an appearance out of the ’pen in the early going (Park link).



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