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Kennedy open to working in Royals' bullpen

Veteran starter willing to help ballclub anyway he can in 2019
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

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 Ian Kennedy.

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 Ian Kennedy.

"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 [Jason Hammel] 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.

Video: KC@DET: Kennedy tosses 7 strong in win over Tigers

"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 [Wade Davis] do it. He was a good starter at times, but he went to that late-inning role and dominated right away. Hoch [Luke Hochevar] was the same way. Someone like Danny [Duffy], he did it before, and he can dominate as a starter or as a reliever. Kel [Kelvin Herrera] 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."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Ian Kennedy