Kennedy open to working in Royals' bullpen

Veteran starter willing to help ballclub anyway he can in 2019

November 15th, 2018

KANSAS CITY -- One of the solutions to fixing the Royals' troubled bullpen heading into 2019 could be to convert some of the starters from the club's suddenly deep rotation to a relief role.

In fact, general manager Dayton Moore said last month the transition may even include veterans such as Danny Duffy and .

"We'll see," Moore said. "I don't think we would script it out that way [moving Duffy and Kennedy to the bullpen]. We wouldn't go into Spring Training and pull the rip cord and abandon them as starters. But if somebody beats them out and they're more effective in that middle- or late-inning role, or as a closer, we'll see."

Kennedy, 33, told MLB.com this week he would be open-minded to such a move.

"There's got to be a transition at some point in your career," Kennedy said. "We saw [] do it this year. CY [Chris Young] did it for us and did it well, going back and forth. Where ever I fit, where ever they want me. I feel I can still start, but where you are in your career and where you are in terms of team needs, that's the important part, and that's how I approach it.

"You see it in the playoffs all the time. Starters go into the bullpen when the team needs them. I think any of us would be open-minded to it. I mean, I love being a starter, but it's about what helps the team."

Kennedy has had an up-and-down stay with the Royals. He was solid in 2016, the first year of a five-year, $70 million deal, when he posted a 3.68 ERA over 195 2/3 innings. But he fell off to a 5.38 ERA in '17 and a 4.66 ERA last season, though he finished strong with a 2.88 ERA over his final four starts.

Moving to the bullpen might be even more desirable for Kennedy if it involved a prominent role there.

"Sure, if they said, 'You've been a starter, but now we want you to be our closer,'" Kennedy said. "That's a little different than saying, 'Hey, we want you to be our long reliever.'

"We saw [] do it. He was a good starter at times, but he went to that late-inning role and dominated right away. Hoch [] was the same way. Someone like Danny [Duffy], he did it before, and he can dominate as a starter or as a reliever. Kel [] was a starter in the Minors and he was dominant as a reliever."

One constant in all of those transitions Kennedy mentioned was each pitcher was able to increase his velocity by two or three mph by going full-tilt for an inning or two.

Kennedy, whose four-seam fastball usually sits around 91-93 mph, believes that might be the case for him -- he thinks he can hit 95-96 in short stints.

"I know every once in a while I can do it," Kennedy said, smiling. "Maybe I can amp it up a little."