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Cole Ragans Named Royals Opening Day Starter


By Max Rieper

KANSAS CITY, Mo. ( – On Opening Day of 2023, Cole Ragans was not in the Royals organization, nor in a Major League rotation. This year, he’ll be an Opening Day starter for the Royals.

The Royals officially tabbed Ragans as their starter for the March 28 opener against the Twins, according to reporter Anne Rogers. He’ll be the first left-handed Opening Day starter for the Royals since Danny Duffy in 2020.

Ragans was the best pitcher in baseball, according to fWAR, after the Royals acquired him at the July trade deadline from the Rangers for pitcher Aroldis Chapman. He went 5-2 with a 2.70 ERA with a 32.3 percent strikeout rate and was worth 2.3 fWAR over the final two months of the season. He earned AL Pitcher of the Month honors in August, the first Royals pitcher to earn the monthly award since Zack Greinke in 2009.

The Royals have not officially named the rest of the starters, but the rotation is expected to include Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha, and Brady Singer. Jordan Lyles was the favorite for the fifth spot in the rotation, but he has battled a back injury and ineffectiveness this spring, opening the door for Daniel Lynch IV, Alec Marsh or Angel Zerpa to claim a spot in the rotation.

Royals Opening Day starters:

Wally Bunker 1969-1970

Dick Drago 1971-1972

Steve Busby 1973, 1975

Paul Splittorff 1974, 1976-1977

Dennis Leonard 1978-1980, 1982

Larry Gura 1981, 1983

Bud Black 1984-1986

Danny Jackson 1987

Bret Saberhagen 1988, 1990-1991

Mark Gubicza 1989

Kevin Appier 1992-1997, 1999

Tim Belcher 1998

Jeff Suppan 2000-2002

Runelvys Hernandez 2003

Brian Anderson 2004

Jose Lima 2005

Scott Elarton 2006

Gil Meche 2007-2009

Zack Greinke 2010, 2022, 2023

Luke Hochevar 2011

Bruce Chen 2012

James Shields 2013-2014

Yordano Ventura 2015

Edinson Volquez 2016

Danny Duffy 2017-2018, 2020

Brad Keller 2019, 2021