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Singer’s Shaky Command One of Several Troublesome Trends

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By: Anne Rogers, Kansas City Royals

 

DETROIT, Mich. (mlb.com/royals) – The Royals’ 2023 season has had its fair share of struggling pitching, defensive miscues, injuries and offensive woes.

On Wednesday at Comerica Park, they went 4-for-4.

Brady Singer allowed five runs in seven innings in the Royals’ 9-4 loss to the Tigers, as the club suffered its Major League-leading 27th blown lead loss.

“Monday night for sure [slipped away],” manager Matt Quatraro said of the Royals’ bullpen blowup in the series opener. “Today, I think they beat us a little bit. They took advantage of the opportunities we gave them.”

The first opportunity came in the second inning, when Singer walked Nick Maton with one out and Bobby Witt Jr. rushed a throw to second on Andy Ibáñez’s grounder. Instead of two outs with one runner on, Singer had one out with two on.

Two batters later, Eric Haase drove a slider out to center field for a game-tying two-run single. Zack Short followed with an RBI single, also on a slider, before Singer could get out of the inning.

“I feel like I got us into some predictable counts with the slider, maybe could have chose something different there,” Singer said. “I just got to make better pitches. Not let it roll into that.”

Singer was in the zone with his slider all day, and the Tigers were waiting for that pitch. Especially against righties, Singer lacked the command on his sinker to establish the inside part of the zone. Tigers hitters were able to eliminate that half of the zone and sit on his slider away.

“I think when his sinker’s on, it’s a tough pitch to hit,” Haase said. “But if he goes to his slider a little bit earlier, I think we were kind of ready for it. Up and down, most of the guys were picking it up a little better than usual today.”

Singer regained some command of his sinker later in the outing, which allowed him to go deep into the game. But the damage was done; the Tigers registered 12 hard-hit balls against Singer (95+ mph) and didn’t chase his slider, whiffing just six times on 27 swings on the pitch.

Lack of command has been the summary of Singer’s season. Following a breakout 2022 season, his ERA in 2023 is up to 6.34, and he’s allowed four earned runs or more in eight of his 15 starts.

“There’s no secret as to how he pitches; it’s a matter of his command,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “There’s a fine line because he works fast, he works towards the plate, he wants to get ahead. And when he has command, you’ve got to be ready to swing. If he doesn’t have command, you’ve got to be ready to take. And we did a good mix of both. I think our two-strike hitting was excellent today.”

Statcast registered three changeups Wednesday, although Singer threw a few harder changeups that likely registered as fastballs. Still, he was unable to use the third pitch to keep the Tigers off-balance.

“Not very many lefties, weren’t very many guys I could have thrown it to,” Singer said. “There were counts that it was better to go to the sinker and slider in the situation. … It’s definitely frustrating whenever you put runs on the board no matter what. I wish I could have made some better pitches in the second, and it would have been a whole different ballgame.”

The Royals made it a two-run game in the top of the eighth, only to see the bottom frame blow up on them again. A scary collision between right fielder Matt Beaty and second baseman Samad Taylor in the outfield on a fly ball led off the inning. Fortunately, both are OK, but Beaty left the game with a “non-concussive whiplash injury,” according to Quatraro.

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