DETROIT -- As thoughts turn toward how the Royals will shape up their pitching staff for 2017, two names will figure prominently in internal discussions this offseason: Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm.
The Royals have indicated that Strahm will compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training. But Strahm, 24, has been such a sensation in the bullpen -- 0.95 ERA in 18 games entering Friday's series opener against the Tigers -- that the club could wind up valuing him more there for now, especially as it tries to recreate the shutdown bullpen of 2013-15.
Soria has had a disappointing season with seven blown saves, eight losses and a 4.12 ERA. And he has been on the mound when either the tying or go-ahead run was scored 13 times.
There was some chatter when Soria was signed last December that he might get a chance to start some games. But the Royals never considered that possibility in 2016. Will they consider that for 2017?
Manager Ned Yost said anything is possible, and that the Royals will discuss all of their options in the offseason. But general manager Dayton Moore didn't seem all that enthusiastic about the notion of Soria becoming a starter.
"It's an interesting idea," Moore told MLB.com. "But we're going to be very active trying to make sure our bullpen gets back to what it has been. Joakim can be a big part of it. I know it hasn't been the type of year that he expected.
"We will be very committed to him in a role. But as you go into the offseason and into Spring Training, every role is evaluated. We'll look to reshape our pitching staff to get us back where we want to be. I probably wouldn't commit to any role right now."
Moore also pointed out that Soria was a big factor in the team breaking a franchise record with 41 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, the longest streak in the Majors since 44 straight by the 1966 Kansas City A's.
"We're looking for four to five relief pitchers who can get the job done," Moore said. "We'll look very hard to put that 'pen together again to help us win a championship. And we broke a record with Joakim in that bullpen."
Moore also wasn't ready to commit to Strahm's role for next season, though he did say again that Strahm will get a look as a starter.
The Royals will go into 2017 with four starters locked into the rotation -- Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura, Ian Kennedy and Jason Vargas.
"We feel really good about Duffy, Ventura, Ian, Vargy and then with the fifth spot, we think CY [Chris Young] can really come back," Moore said. "It's been a tough year for CY. Mike Minor is in that mix, too. Matt Strahm is in that mix. There are some other internal candidates and we'll try to take advantage of any external options.
"[Strahm] has done an excellent job. He can potentially be a big part of what we're doing. But he's going to have to earn a role on the team."