The Royals optioned pitchers Tim Hill and Kevin McCarthy to AAA Omaha today, recalling Heath Fillmyer and calling Richard Lovelady up for his first taste of the big leagues. Only four teams have worse team ERAs than the Royals here early in 2019 so they are hoping Lovelady will bring a fresh arm to help the team ERA currently sitting at 6.15.
Lovelady, who just missed my Royals top 10 to start the season, is a lefty reliever who is especially tough on left handed hitters thanks to his very low, nearing side armed, slot with a fastball that can get up to 97 with good run and late sink. He also possesses an above average slider that attacks in at right handed batters and just runs away from lefties, allowing him to be successful against hitters from both sides of the plate.
He is working on developing a change which has been quite inconsistent, but no matter how “poor” it is on a given day it shows plenty of movement, he just doesn’t have consistent movement as sometimes it cuts while other times it fades.
His career ERA in the minors is an impressive 1.99 and he strikes out nearly four batters for every walk he gives up, although it is more control than command. Despite missing the catcher’s mitt more often than you would ideally want, he makes his misses down in the zone, limiting the damage that can be done as he has given up just four home runs in 167.1 pro innings.
If the change becomes a pitch he can utilize on a nightly basis, he could develop into a very good left-handed reliver late in games. If that never does come around to be a pitch he can lean on, the fastball/slider mix will be enough to carry him to success as a middle reliever. I don’t think Lovelady is safe from being optioned back to AAA at some point this year, but I also don’t think it is far fetched to say he will grab the job and become a reliable piece in a Royals bullpen desperately looking for reliability in the late innings.