The Royals announced today that they’ve selected the contract of right-handed reliever Al Alburquerque from Triple-A Omaha and transferred injured lefty Matt Strahm from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. Southpaw Eric Skoglund was optioned to Triple-A to clear a spot on the active roster for Alburquerque.
[Related: Updated Kansas City Royals depth chart]
As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star wrote yesterday, Strahm was diagnosed with a torn patella tendon, sidelining him for the foreseeable future. Per Dodd, the team is currently seeking a second opinion to determine if Strahm requires surgery. Either way, he’ll be out until Aug. 30, at the earliest, as a result of today’s move.
In more optimistic injury news, however, Dodd tweets that the Royals have listed ace Danny Duffy as their starter for Tuesday’s game, meaning he’ll be activated after missing nearly eight weeks with an oblique injury. The return of Duffy will be a boon to a Royals team that has yet again surprised some by surging up the AL Central standings with a strong month of play.
With Strahm and Nate Karns on the shelf, Duffy will step back into the rotation alongside Ian Kennedy, Jason Vargas, Jason Hammel and Travis Wood. With the exception of Vargas, that group has struggled considerably in 2017, so the return of the team’s best pitcher should be a significant shot in the arm as the Royals aim for one last magical run with a core that is bound for free agency this winter.
As for Strahm, the 25-year-old burst onto the scene for Kansas City in 2016, firing 22 innings of relief with a 1.23 ERA, 12.3 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 46.7 percent ground-ball rate. Long a starter in the minors, he was a candidate to fill that role in 2017 but opened the year in the bullpen and never found his footing. Through 34 2/3 innings this year, including three starts, Strahm has a 5.45 ERA thanks to diminished strikeout numbers and increased struggles with his control. He’s obviously still a potential long-term piece for the K.C. staff, whether out of the ’pen or the rotation, but this latest injury certainly puts the remainder of his season in jeopardy.
Alburquerque, meanwhile, tossed four innings for the Royals earlier this year before being designated for assignment and accepting an outright assignment to Triple-A. Al Al was more or less a mainstay in the Tigers’ relief corps from 2011-15, but he’s totaled just six big league innings in the past two seasons. The 31-year-old owns a career 3.27 ERA with 11.0 K/9 and 5.0 BB/9 in 237 Major League innings, and he’d worked to a sensational 2.08 ERA with a 28-to-5 K/BB ratio through 26 innings in Triple-A.