Kansas City lefty Daniel Lynch will make his major-league debut Monday night as the Royals host the Cleveland Indians in the first game of a four-game series.
Lynch, one of four first-round picks by the Royals in the 2018 draft, will be the third to make his MLB debut, following Brady Singer and Kris Bubic in 2020).
The Indians will send Aaron Civale (4-0, 2.94 ERA) to the mound.
The 34th overall pick of the 2018 draft, Lynch is a consensus pick as a top-100 prospect. The 24-year-old lefty has a 2.50 ERA and 157 strikeouts over 147 2/3 innings in the minors, but he has no Double-A or Triple-A experience. He has been at the Royals’ alternate training site and was preparing for his Triple-A debut in Omaha on Tuesday.
“I called my fiance, then I called my dad and my brother and sister,” Lynch said. “I had to get to work on getting my stuff. I had to pack up my apartment. It didn’t really set in until I started driving (to Kansas City).
“It was pretty hectic until I got on the road and I got to reflect. I feel really grateful to have this opportunity. Not a lot of people get to do this.”
General manager Dayton Moore said the time was right for Lynch to make his debut.
“You need a lot of high-quality pitchers to get through 162 games,” he said. “Daniel is an extremely talented left-handed pitcher with an elite fastball and an elite breaking ball. He’s got the makings of a top of the rotation pitcher.
“It’s pretty much a consensus (that he’s ready). As long as Daniel continues to do what he’s been doing he’ll be very successful.”
Jakob Junis, who originally was scheduled to start Monday’s game, will be moved back to the bullpen.
“I didn’t speak with him personally, but (Royals manager) Mike (Matheny) said he was great,” Moore said. “I didn’t anticipate there would be any issue with that. (Jake) is willing to do whatever we need him to do. I certainly anticipate him making more starts for this team. I think he has a chance to be the MVP of this staff because of who he is. He’s got weapons; he’s got out-pitches.”
Civale has been able to eat some innings for manager Terry Francona. He’s gone at least seven innings three times, with 5 1/3 his fewest innings in any of his five starts this season. Civale is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in his only career start against the Royals. He gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings in a start last September. He struck out seven and walked only one.
The Indians will be trying to break in their own highly rated prospect, as outfielder Daniel Johnson was recalled and made his season debut on Friday against the White Sox.
Johnson had a solid spring for Cleveland, with a .368 average with a 1.165 OPS, one double, two homers and four RBIs in 19 at-bats in spring training. But the team decided to start him at the alternate training site this season. Francona said it wasn’t easy telling him that he wasn’t making the Opening Day roster.
“You kind of give the player a little room and hopefully at some point they realize you don’t have it out for them,” Francona said. “He may not agree with your decision, but you certainly don’t want it to linger.”
–Field Level Media