Lopez has made two appearances since joining the Kansas City bullpen May 29, giving up five runs on eight hits and two walks over seven innings while striking out nine. Both of Lopez's outings have been of the multi-inning variety, an unsurprising development given that his pitch count was already built up from his time as a starter. Manager Ned Yost previously suggested that Lopez's move to relief would likely be a permanent move, and Glenn Sparkman's solid results in three starts since replacing Lopez in the rotation suggests that plan likely still remains in place. Fantasy managers in AL-only formats still holding Lopez can probably feel comfortable exploring other options at this point.
Manager Ned Yost said Lopez's move to the bullpen is likely long term, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. "I think he can be really good there," the skipper said. Lopez was demoted to the bullpen after struggling to a 6.79 ERA and 1.57 WHIP through his first 11 appearances (10 starts) this season. The right-hander did fan 49 batters in 51.2 innings, so there's a chance his stuff plays in shorter stints, though he'll need to fix his home run (2.1 HR/9) and walk (3.7 BB/9) issues before he's trusted with high-leverage work. The Royals have yet to name Lopez's replacement in the rotation, though Glenn Sparkman is likely the team's top candidate.
The Royals aren't listing Lopez as one of their starting pitchers for the four-game series with the Rangers that begins Thursday, Lynn Worthy of The Kansas City Star reports. Kansas City has confirmed six of its seven probable starters for the week, with the lone vacancy coming Wednesday in Chicago against the White Sox. Unless they're comfortable deploying Lopez on three days' rest with a limited pitch count, the Royals look poised to make a change with their fifth starter. If Lopez is in fact demoted to the bullpen or to Triple-A Omaha, it wouldn't come as much of a surprise given that he's posted a 6.79 ERA and 1.57 WHIP across 51.2 frames this season. Long reliever Glenn Sparkman would likely represent the top candidate to replace Lopez in the rotation if a change is made.
Lopez (0-6) took the loss in Game 2 of Saturday's doubeheader against the Yankees by allowing five runs on six hits over one inning. He struck out one and walked one. Lopez allowed a single in a scoreless first inning, but things unraveled quickly in the second frame when he faced six batters without recording an out, leading to his exit. The 26-year-old remains winless over 11 outings and has a 6.79 ERA, 1.57 WHIP and 49:21 K:BB across 51.2 innings. Lopez lines up to pitch during the four-game series with the Rangers next weekend.
Lopez is starting Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader against the Yankees, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. Lopez was originally slated to pitch Sunday's series finale, but he'll toss the nightcap Saturday after Friday night's contest was postponed. Jakob Junis will draw the start in Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader.