Flynn is latest Royal to try to nail down No. 5 starter job

Brian Flynn will be making his first major league start since August 2014.

John Rieger/John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brian Flynn will get an opportunity to fill a Kansas City Royals gaping hole — the No. 5 starter.

The Royals have tried right-handers Chris Young and Dillon Gee in that slot, but without much success. Left-hander Flynn gets his turn Tuesday night against the division-leading Cleveland Indians.

"We know what we’ve got in Chris Young. We know what we have in Dillon Gee," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It’s just seeing what we’ve got in Brian Flynn. He’s been throwing the ball extremely well out of the pen and we want to give him an opportunity to start.

"We want to see what he can do as a starter. We know where he is as a reliever. And he’s put up really, really good numbers. So, we’re going to find out."

Flynn is 1-0 with a 2.39 ERA in 13 relief appearances. He is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in five career starts, all with the Marlins. He has not started in the majors since Aug. 7, 2014, and threw only two-thirds of an inning in 2015 because of a left lat muscle injury.

"I’m ready to go," Flynn said. "I’ve been hopeful to get a shot at it. I feel like I can help this team as a starter. But it’s been a long time, especially with the injury. It’s a long time since I’ve had a start. I’ve matured a lot since then, so I’m really ready for that.

"Not getting too caught up in the bright lights. I think my first stint up with Miami, I was a little caught up with everything. And just the biggest thing is proving to myself that I can pitch up here, my stuff plays, especially after the injury. Just getting to play, playing and enjoy it has been huge for me. Just treat it like a game and having fun."

He said pitching coach Dave Eiland talked to him about the start.

"Not a whole lot is going to change for me," Flynn said. "The first thing Dave talked to me about is I’ve had some success so far in the bullpen, just carry it over and take it batter by batter. If you start looking ahead at too many innings, you won’t get to the next inning."

He said pitching out of the bullpen "simplifies things."

"Breaking it down to two pitches out of the bullpen," Flynn said. "I might add some going back to starting. Knowing you can have some success on two pitches makes it easier on your life."

Yost said Flynn will be on a 60-to-70-pitch limit.

The Indians will counter with American League ERA leader Danny Salazar, who is 6-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 11 career starts against the Royals. He is 2-0 against the Royals this season, holding them to one run over 15 2/3 innings.

Salazar is 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA in nine road starts, holding foes to a .196 batting average.

The Indians lost the opener of this three-game series when the Royals sent 10 men to the plate in a seven-run eighth inning off relievers Bryan Shaw and Jeff Manship.

Shaw gave up hits to the first three batters he faced, including a two-run pinch double to Christian Colon, who attempted to bunt on the first two pitches.

"He was obviously working behind in the count," Francona said. "First hitter (Alcides Escobar) of the inning, that ball, if he lets it go, he probably gets an out. And then things, they’re trying to give us an out on the bunt and he falls behind. Fall behind like that, you’re just trying to get the ball over the plate and he did a nice job of pulling back and hitting one all the way to the wall that completely changed the game right there. We just couldn’t stop the bleeding."