Hours away from debuting with his sixth Major League team, Trevor Cahill will be thrusted into a significant role with the Kansas City Royals immediately.
Cahill, who has not started in eight days, faces a challenging initial assignment as the Royals, riding a 9-game winning streak, square off against a Boston Red Sox who just lost their AL East lead last night.
Kansas City acquired Cahill, in addition to relief pitchers Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter, from the San Diego Padres on Monday. The move represented the Royals’ efforts to find a back-end rotation starter that offers experience and the ability to eat up innings.
While splitting time between bullpen and rotation work since 2014, Cahill found success pitching in several pitcher friendly environments with the Padres in 2017 before the trade. He collected four wins, 72 strikeouts and a 3.69 ERA in just 11 starts with the team, working around a shoulder strain that resulted in nearly seven weeks on the disabled list.
“He’s got good stuff,” Royals manager Ned Yost said earlier this week. “His numbers are good up to this point. I remember him a couple of years back. He was always tough. We think he’s going to help us out.”
If Cahill can keep a similar pace with the Royals, it could add even more balance to the Royals’ rotation. Danny Duffy anchors the rotation with nearly a 3:1 strikeout-walk ratio, while Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel have surged in July with six combined quality starts.
Another piece, All-Star Jason Vargas, has made similar improvements on the mound as Cahill. He has decreased his fastball velocity in order to develop specialty pitches this season, as evidenced in Friday’s victory when Vargas only needed two strikeouts to hold the Red Sox to one-run ball over six innings.
“His changeup was really good,” Yost said on Vargas after Friday’s 4-2 victory. “So was his breaking ball. (He) spotted his fastball well, but had better life on his secondary pitches tonight. More crisp.”
Cahill has worked around his secondary pitches as well by holding opponents to a .208 batting average on his changeups, curveballs and sliders this year.
Although his only postseason experience came with the Chicago Cubs in 2015, Cahill pitched for the reigning World Series champions in the regular season. Not too far removed from these heights, his contributions, like the rest of the Royals’ starting pitchers could influence the team’s chances of reaching their third postseason in four years.