With the retirement of long-time left fielder Alex Gordon, the Kansas City Royals will have a big hole to fill in 2021 and beyond. Gordon, who won seven gold gloves after switching to the outfield during the 2010 season, announced his retirement Thursday.
There are several players who could earn the nod as next year's opening day left fielder, including power-hitting Franchy Cordero, who was acquired from San Diego on July 16, along with right-handed pitcher Ronald Bolanos, for left-handed pitcher Tim Hill.
The Royals and the Detroit Tigers will play the third game of a four-game, season-ending series Saturday. Left-hander Matthew Boyd (2-7, 6.96 ERA) will get the nod for the Tigers (22-34), while rookie righty Carlos Hernandez (0-0, 3.46) gets his third start for Kansas City.
The Royals (25-33) have won two one-run games in the series so far, including a 3-2 victory behind Brad Keller on Friday. Adalberto Mondesi continued his torrid hitting with three more hits. He has a seven at-bat hitting streak, with 10 hits in his last 12 at-bats.
Boyd has struggled in 2020, with his ERA above 6.60 all season. But he's done well against the Royals. The Tigers have won both of his starts, including Sept. 15 when he pitched 5 2/3 innings in a 6-0 Detroit victory. He allowed just two hits, walking four.
In 2019, Boyd threw at least six innings in 21 of 32 starts. He's reached that total only twice in 11 starts this season. That has created a problem for the Tigers.
"It can be very challenging, because we have so many young kids in our rotation, and our bullpen has had to eat up a lot of innings," interim manager Lloyd McClendon said after Boyd gave up five runs in five innings in his most recent start. "One thing I know about a bullpen: if they're out there too much, you're not going to like them at some point, because they're going to be overworked.
"We need our starters to step up and give us a few more innings."
For his career, Boyd is 6-9 with a 6.41 ERA in 21 starts against Kansas City. His career WHIP is 1.56 against the Royals.
Hernandez has been pretty efficient, allowing only five earned runs on 12 hits in 13 innings. But keeping the ball in the yard has been his problem, as he's allowed four home runs.
Cordero has played just 14 games for Kansas City, largely because of injuries. He has seven starts: four in right, two in center and one in left. Fast enough to play center in spacious Kauffman Stadium, he projects offensively more like a corner outfielder -- if he can stay healthy.
On Wednesday, Cordero was reinstated from the injured list, where he had been with a sprained right wrist since Aug. 9, and all he did was record his second career multi-homer game, hitting a three-run shot in the sixth inning and adding a solo blast in the seventh for a career-best five RBI.
But his health has been an issue. Cordero has only played in 63 games (out of a possible 382) the last three seasons.
"I remember when we were first inquiring about Franchy," manager Mike Matheny said. "I went straight to (Matheny's former teammate and recent San Diego Padres coach) Mark McGwire. Mark just couldn't say high enough things about the talent that he has. He said, 'The problem is we just can't keep him on the field.'
"As soon as we acquired him, we looked into what we could do to keep him on the field. You can't predict a structural bone issue, but we'll try to attack what we can and hopefully get Franchy every opportunity to stay healthy and show the talent. Because we've all seen that the talent is pretty exceptional."
--Field Level Media