Robinson Tejeda’s missing velocity leads to bullpen demotion

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After struggling as a starter early in his career Robinson Tejeda found a home in the Royals’ bullpen setting up closer Joakim Soria, as the shorter appearances allowed shaky command to take a backseat to his overpowering raw stuff.

Unfortunately so far this season Tejeda’s velocity is down significantly, with his fastball averaging just 88.6 miles per hour compared to 93.7 mph last year, and after a string of ugly outings the Royals have removed him from the high-leverage setup role.

It’s not uncommon for pitchers to see their velocity dip by a couple miles per hour at times, particularly early in the season, but for Tejeda to go from 93-94 mph to 88-89 mph is a gigantic red flag.

And as manager Ned Yost told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, no one seems sure how to explain it:

We talked to Robby and he’s got no answers. Nobody does. He’s fine. He feels good. I have no doubt that Robby will get his velocity back. We’re just going to have to [wait] until he gets it back.

It’s tough not to assume that the diminished velocity has something to do with his shoulder problems from last year and in addition to the missing miles per hour Tejeda’s performance has also suffered. During the past three seasons Tejeda had a .195 opponents’ batting average and struck out 25.2 percent of the batters he faced. This year opponents are hitting .417 off him and he’s managed a grand total of one strikeout in 26 plate appearances.

Cardinals prospect Griffin Roberts suspended 50 games for a drug of abuse

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Cardinals right-handed pitching prospect Griffin Roberts has been suspended 50 games following his second positive test for a drug of abuse, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Roberts, 22, is currently ranked the Cardinals’ tenth-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was selected in the first round of the 2018 draft and signed for a $1.66 million bonus, after which he split his first year in pro ball between the rookie-level GCL Cardinals and High-A Palm Beach Cardinals. He finished his run in 2018 with a combined seven runs, four walks, and 13 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings across the two levels, and projects as a potential major-league starter (or solid righty reliever) after touching up his fastball-slider combo and proving he can command the ball on a consistent basis.

Whether he’ll emerge from A-level ball with a more concrete idea of his future role with the team will have to wait until he’s reinstated from the restricted list. He should be eligible to rejoin the Cardinals’ minor league affiliate sometime in mid- to late-May 2019.