Josh Staumont, an important part of the KC Royals’ bullpen this season and last, entered Wednesday night’s loss to the Astros in Houston to protect a one-run lead. He didn’t complete the task.
Instead, Staumont immediately walked leadoff batter Carlos Correa. He retired Alex Bregman on a fly, but Kyle Tucker singled to left, moving Correa to second. And although he then struck out Jake Meyers, Manager Mike Matheny chose to pull Staumont for Scott Barlow; Barlow then gave up a game-tying single to Michael Brantley. The run was charged to Staumont, and Houston won 6-5 in 10 innings.
This afternoon, with the Royals in Seattle preparing to begin a four-game series with the Mariners tonight at 9:10 p.m., the club put Staumont on the Injured List with an undisclosed issue. And in a somewhat curious move, he’ll be replaced by Scott Blewett.
The oddity of recalling Blewett to take Staumont’s place is Blewett’s record this season at Triple-A Omaha. Despite pitching fairly well (2.25 ERA) in a couple of games for the Royals’ Arizona Complex Gold club while he was on an injury rehab assignment earlier this month, he was 4-3 with a high 6.47 ERA in 14 games (10 starts) for the Storm Chasers when the Royals brought him up earlier today. And Omaha has relievers with better records—just to name two, Gabe Speier is 2-0, 3.11 with five saves in 38 games, and Tyler Zuber has six saves and a 3.20 ERA in 25.
Blewett’s lack of big league experience—he’s pitched in the majors just twice—also calls the KC Royals’ decision into some question. His debut came in relief against Milwaukee last season and went well, but the Cardinals nicked him for two runs on three hits in only an inning in his second and final appearance of the campaign.
He also owns an unspectacular minor league record: 37-48 with a 5.10 ERA in 143 games, 135 of them starts.
What might have motivated the KC Royals to replace Staumont with Blewett?
Kansas City may have bypassed Omaha relievers with better records than Blewett’s because the Storm Chasers are contending for a division title. That would make sense.
Or it could be that the KC Royals don’t intend Blewett’s stay to be long, but instead view him as a placeholder or emergency arm until another reliever is ready. He’s certainly been in that position before: Kansas City called him up three times last year for such service. For example, he may soon be on his way back to Omaha if Staumont’s assignment to the IL is COVID-related, in which case he can return as soon as he satisfies baseball’s COVID protocols. Some players have been cleared to return to action in as little as a day.
Or it could be that the club needs a hurler to fill in until Greg Holland can be activated; right shoulder impingement syndrome forced the veteran reliever to the 10-day IL Aug. 16, so he’s eligible to return anytime.
Time will tell, of course, how long Staumont (2-2, 3.42 with five saves in 49 games this year) will miss. If Staumont’s isn’t a COVID-protocol short stay on the IL, expect Manager Mike Matheny to try to find Blewett a game spot or two, at least until Holland makes it back.
The Royals will start Brad Keller (8-12, 5.43) tonight against Seattle’s Yusei Kikuchi (7-7, 4.22). The clubs play again Friday night and have afternoon games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
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