Kansas City reliever returns after stint on IL
ANAHEIM, Calif .– The Kansas City Royals were hoping to build a versatile and deep field into the strength of their pitching staff this season.
Last season served as an introduction to how manager Mike Matheny planned to use this group with confrontations and play situations dictating their use rather than traditional roles.
Injuries kept the bullpen from its potential, but Josh Staumont’s return from a knee injury certainly helps a unit that has seen Jesse Hahn, Kyle Zimmer and Staumont spend time on the injured list.
Staumont, a right-hander, pushed to get back onto the pitch as quickly as possible. He pitched a scoreless inning to close Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Twins. The Royals were tied on basis in the ninth inning, but lost 2-1 in the last game of their home stand.
“There is nothing like a game and there is nothing like a close game,” Staumont said after Sunday’s outing. “So I was just happy to come out. Again, they trusted me that they could fire me right away and that I could handle it and do my job.”
Before Tuesday night, Staumont made five saves, a high for the team this season. He had posted a 2.66 ERA with a WHIP of 1.18, opponent’s batting average of 0.176, 26 strikeouts, 13 walks (one intentional) in 22 appearances (23 2/3 innings ). He gave Taylor Ward a two-run homer in the eighth inning of the Royals’ 8-1 loss to the Angels on Tuesday night.
Staumont missed eight games with that knee sprain. He injured himself while stretching the day of his last outing before being on the injured reserve list, against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. On May 26.
Staumont described it as an “interesting injury” when explaining the unique circumstances surrounding it.
“Almost just stretching,” Staumont said. “It was super laid back. It was more like you blew your knuckle off and it hurt. That’s about all I can explain. The injury itself is pretty weird. more just pain management at this point.
“So we’re just going to move forward accordingly as much as it doesn’t hurt. The knee itself is stable, so we’re going to keep pushing. I wanted to come back asap. It was my first time on the IL in 27 years, so I plan not to go back. “
Staumont pitched in the game against Tampa and felt “a little odd,” but he did a scoreless inning with a walk. His speed was down on this outing – the average speed dropped 2.5 mph from the season average. However, his speed, nearing the peak of majors in 2020, has dropped this season after a bout with COVID-19 stole his muscle on the eve of spring training.
“I didn’t feel it,” Staumont said of the knee injury in his game against the Rays. “I didn’t feel good. But at the same time, it’s baseball.
Staumont felt “quite severe pain” the next morning. Within 36 hours of alerting the team’s training and medical staff, he started to feel better and felt it was a minor injury.
When he’s in full health, he has the best overall stuff of any Royals reliever. His presence also gives the Royals a much needed extra option late in the game.
The Royals also put a heavy workload on a small group of relievers. Southpaw Jake Brentz, who made his major league debut this season, entered a tie for most appearances in the majors on Tuesday night (29), while right-hander Scott Barlow entered the evening with 27 appearances and tied for eighth. most innings (30) of any reliever in the majors.
“It just shares the wealth and (we’re) able to take some of the load off the guys we’ve been riding really hard on,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Think Scott Barlow. Think Greg Holland. Riding Jake Brentz pretty tough too. Everyone’s reacted well, but being able to give those sleeves of leverage to other guys and knowing we’re in good hands is always a great feeling. “