Strahm to make 1st start in place of Skoglund

Strahm to make 1st start in place of Skoglund

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Royals always have viewed left-hander Matt Strahm as a potential starter, even after his phenomenal rookie season in 2016 when he posted a 1.23 ERA in 21 relief outings.

Strahm, 25, will get a chance to show the Royals his value as a starter sooner rather than later. Manager Ned Yost named Strahm his starter for Thursday's game against the Angels, taking the place of left-hander Eric Skoglund, who struggled his last two times out.

After a terrific Major League debut (6 1/3 shutout innings against the Tigers on May 30), Skoglund didn't make it past the second inning in each of his last two starts.

"[Strahm] was always going to be a starter anyway. And we just didn't have that many options that were roster ready," said Yost, noting that right-hander Miguel Almonte is on Triple-A Omaha's disabled list with shoulder stiffness. "We can always put [Strahm] back in the bullpen down the road. But for now, let's look at it and see what we have, and maybe we can have a [Danny] Duffy situation."

Duffy started last season in the bullpen before the Royals turned to him as a starter again because of injuries in the rotation. Duffy excelled in a starting role and developed into the team ace.

But with injuries to Duffy (oblique) and right-hander Nathan Karns (forearm soreness) this season, Yost has been searching for replacements.

Strahm, who last started a game in Double-A last July, said he's ready for the task.

"I got the news when I got here today that I was starting," Strahm said. "I was a little surprised but I'm excited. I like relieving but they want me to start and I'll do whatever they want me to do."

Strahm likely will be able to go about 65 to 70 pitches Thursday.

"After that we'll get him up to 80, 85 and then after that, closer to 100," Yost said. "It's just a build-up process."

The emergence of left-handers Mike Minor (2.25 ERA) and Scott Alexander (1.37 ERA) will ease the loss of Strahm from the bullpen, Yost said.

"And we should be covered [Thursday] because we can have Skoglund piggyback him," Yost said. "And we'll also have [Travis Wood] and [Chris Young]. We should be OK."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.