Plenty of young pitchers have quality "stuff." The difference between the ones who stick and the ones who struggle, though, is how they respond to adversity. Kansas City Royals starter Kris Bubic answered well on Monday.
In the Royals' series-opening 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles, Bubic posted a solid final stat line: 5.1 innings, six hits and two runs allowed while walking one batter and striking out another four. He ended up needing 95 pitches to work through the hitters he faced, which was neither a problem nor a positive — at least in the grand scheme of things. Bubic needed 34 pitches in order to get out of the third inning, although he allowed just one run in the process. He spoke about his command after the contest.
"The curveball was better today but still kind of hit-or-miss a little bit," Bubic said. "I thought the fastball was the best it's been in a while, it got a lot of swings in the top of the zone. So overall, just kind of grinding through that inning, being able to pitch into the sixth and then keep the team in the game."
Bubic's curveball was sharp at the beginning of the game but slowly became less and less consistent as the outing went on. Centerfielder Cedric Mullins was the star of the show for Baltimore, homering off the Royals lefty in the fifth inning and driving in one of the team's two total runs. Outside of the solo shot and getting into some trouble in the third, Bubic looked focused and comfortable. Manager Mike Matheny was pleased with the 24-year-old's afternoon.
"His game is going to revolve around controlling that fastball," Matheny said. "He was in and out of it today but had to fight and had to go to the changeup maybe in times where he normally wouldn't just because he got into a corner a little bit... overall, I thought he did a nice job."
Bubic mentioned being in "attack mode" as something he felt he was doing for the most part on Monday. He doesn't have a super impressive fastball, so being able to pick his spots well and put hitters away with his plus offspeed offerings remains paramount. That should come with time, and this start displayed some maturity on behalf of a pitcher the Royals consider to be a key part of their future.
If there's one thing the Royals' young crop of pitchers has learned this season, it's that things aren't always going to be pretty. With that said, the pitchers have to figure out how to battle through difficult innings and tough circumstances in order to come out on the other side with a lesson learned. Bubic wasn't always sharp and may have put the "labor" in Labor Day for certain stretches, but he was good enough to get the job done. That's a figurative win for him, and it contributed to a literal win for the team.