Singer makes Wrigley start on 24th birthday

August 4th, 2020

On Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, Royals rookie will make his third big league start on the day he turns 24 years old.

And already, the right-hander has learned one valuable lesson at the highest level: Unlike in the Minor Leagues, a pitcher can’t let down for one pitch or he will pay for it.

“I have learned a lot already,” Singer said in a Zoom call. “It seems kind of weird to say that after just two games, but there's a lot of little things you can learn during just two games here in the big leagues.

“You have to know to take it up a notch. So the focus has been just how huge every single pitch is. And trying to figure out between innings what each hitter did against you. The focus has to be so much more here.”

Singer, who is ranked as the Royals' second-best prospect and No. 58 overall by MLB Pipeline, has one distinct advantage: He has an All-Star and Gold Glove catcher in behind the plate to help him.

“He has been incredible,” Singer said. “He has made this whole process a lot easier on me, that’s for sure. But it’s just his experiences and not only from catching in the big leagues, but also from his hitting [experience].

“I lean on him for everything. When I don’t feel comfortable with something, or I don’t understand something or forget the scouting report, I have no doubt he knows what’s going on, and it can help me.”

Zuber like Holland
If there is one pitcher that rookie reliever reminds manager Mike Matheny of already, it’s .

Matheny got another glimpse of that Sunday when Zuber entered the game in the fifth inning with two on and one out, and the top of the dangerous White Sox order coming up with the score tied.

Zuber didn’t give in, wound up walking three batters, but got a huge strikeout of José Abreu with the bases loaded, and then got Edwin Encarnación to fly out. Zuber also had to deal with a tight strike zone -- a 3-2 fastball to Yasmani Grandal could have been called a strike, which would have ended the inning with no runs.

The White Sox got one run out of the inning.

“It was almost Holland-esque,” Matheny said of Zuber’s outing. “He knows the balance of the game swings with that inning. The first walk, I don’t think he was dialed in yet. I think he was having trouble finding it.

“And after that he was just trying to make really good pitches, understanding where we were in the order. He knew it’s not a group of hitters you can afford to make a mistake with in the middle of the plate, even if you risk walking someone.

“It’s how he’s wired, pitching at high leverage, knowing matchups, knowing who he likes his stuff to match up against. The fact that he had those three walks against those hitters and only gave up one run says a lot.”

Dozier, Hahn getting closer
The Royals are expecting outfielder Hunter Dozier (injured list, COVID-19) to be cleared to begin rehabbing at the team’s alternate training site early this week.

The team also is expecting right-hander Jesse Hahn, who is on the restricted list, to begin working out at T-Bones Stadium soon as well.