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.

Carlos Martínez to pitch out of bullpen upon return from injured list

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Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said pitcher Carlos Martínez will work out of the bullpen when he returns from the injured list, The Athletic’s Mark Saxon reports. Shildt noted that the decision is based on Martínez’s needs rather than the team’s needs, which suggests he may not yet have the strength to pitch as a starter.

Martínez, 27, opened the season on the injured list due to a right rotator cuff strain. The right-hander was also injured last year, battling lat and oblique injuries. He will go to extended spring training and likely begin a minor league rehab assignment next week. Based on that time frame, Martínez should be activated around mid-May.

Last year, Martínez made 18 starts and 15 relief appearances, posting a 3.11 ERA with five saves and a 117/60 K/BB ratio across 118 2/3 innings. It is unclear what role(s) Martínez will have in the bullpen, but he could eventually help set up for closer Jordan Hicks.