The Royals announced they’ve optioned Carlos Hernández to Triple-A Omaha and placed reliever Ronald Bolaños on the injured list. Kansas City selected left-hander Foster Griffin onto the big league club and recalled righty Matt Peacock. Infielder Adalberto Mondesi has been transferred from the 10-day to the 60-day IL as well.
Hernández becomes the second member of the season-opening rotation to pitch his way off the active roster. Kansas City also optioned Kris Bubic last week, with both hurlers struggling mightily in the early going. Hernández has taken seven turns through the rotation but logged a 9.10 ERA over 29 2/3 innings. He has struck out just 10.7% of batters faced while walking an untenable 13.4% of opponents, making him one of just two starters (minimum 20 innings) with more walks than strikeouts.
Needless to say, that kind of performance isn’t one the Royals can accept every fifth day. The 25-year-old righty posted a 3.68 ERA over 85 2/3 frames last season. His 2021 strikeout and walk numbers weren’t great, but they were far superior to this season’s early marks. Hernández also averaged north of 97 MPH with his fastball last season, but his velocity has taken a slight hit this year. He’ll try to right the ship with the Storm Chasers and earn his way back to the big leagues.
In large part due to Bubic’s and Hernández’s struggles, Kansas City has had one of the least effective rotations in the majors. Royals starters rank 26th with a 4.78 ERA and last with a 5.7 percentage point differential between their strikeout and walk rates. Zack Greinke, Brad Keller and Daniel Lynch have spots locked down, while Jonathan Heasley was recently brought up in Bubic’s stead. Who’ll replace Hernández is to be determined, but former first-round pick Brady Singer has been stretching out as a starter in Omaha after opening the season in the MLB bullpen.
Griffin, meanwhile, will join the bullpen mix for manager Mike Matheny. The former first-round pick made the briefest of big league debuts, appearing in one game for Kansas City in 2020. The Royals outrighted him off their 40-man roster following that season, but he quickly re-signed on a minor league pact. A starting pitcher early in his career, he’s come out of the bullpen 13 times with the Storm Chasers this year.
Over 19 2/3 innings, Griffin has posted a 1.83 ERA. He’s backed that up with excellent peripherals, fanning nearly three in every ten batters while inducing grounders on over 58% of batted balls. Griffin has always had solid control and gotten a fair share of worm-burners, but this season’s early strikeout rate is a marked improvement over his prior results. He has all three minor league option years remaining, so the Royals can bounce him between K.C. and Omaha without exposing him to waivers now that he’s back on the 40-man roster.
Mondesi’s IL transfer was an inevitability. The speedy infielder unfortunately suffered a torn ACL last month and isn’t expected to return this season. He’ll be eligible for arbitration for a final time this winter.