Rustin Dodd of The Athletic reports that Royals manager Ned Yost has decided to move struggling starter Jason Hammel to the bullpen. Burch Smith will start in Hammel’s place against the Twins on Wednesday.
Hammel, 35, is 2-11 with a 6.16 ERA and a 66/31 K/BB ratio in 102 1/3 innings this season. He leads all starters in losses, hits allowed (134), and earned runs allowed (70). He is taking the move in stride, saying, “It’s a little slice of humble pie. But sometimes it’s necessary to reshape, reinvent, right the ship. I’ll go down and help out.”
Hammel is in the second year of his two-year, $16 million contract signed in February 2017. The contract includes a $12 million mutual option for the 2019 season with a $2 million buyout. The Royals will likely elect to buy him out after the season.
The Royals acquired Smith, 28, from the Mets in exchange for a player to be named later or cash last December. Smith has pitched 38 1/3 innings, all in relief, for the Royals this season, compiling a 5.40 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 21 walks. Yost said of Smith, “He’s got more of a starter’s mentality than a reliever, if you understand what I’m saying. It takes him a long time to get loose. He’s got routines. It’s not good for a reliever.”