Royals hope Strahm rebounds in Triple-A

Royals hope Strahm rebounds in Triple-A

KANSAS CITY -- What looks like a demotion for Matt Strahm is really just an opportunity for the Royals left-handed reliever to reboot.

Strahm and outfielder Terrance Gore were optioned in the past 48 hours, and on Wednesday, the Royals recalled left-hander Scott Alexander and right-hander Jake Junis as their replacements.

"We just want to let [Strahm] get down there [to Triple-A Omaha] in a less-pressured environment, and get him back to who he is," manager Ned Yost said.

Strahm, the club's No. 1 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, was sensational as a rookie in 2016, posting a 1.23 ERA in 21 games. But in three outings this season, Strahm gave up seven earned runs in 1 1/3 innings for a 47.25 ERA.

While Strahm looked marginally better in the Royals' 5-4 loss to Houston on Sunday -- one earned run on one hit and three walks in two-thirds of an inning -- Yost said the decision to send down Strahm was based on urgency.

"I don't have time for [him to work it out here] right now," Yost said. "We built this bullpen with him right in the middle of it. We need him to be him. Send him down, get it straightened out, get him back up."

Yost doesn't believe Strahm is that far away.

"He's not. It's mostly mental and his confidence," Yost said. "He'll get that back quick."

Strahm must stay in the Minors for at least 10 days (barring an injury callup), and Yost said he could be back "in a couple of weeks."

Alexander, 27, nearly made the team out of Spring Training, but a surplus of left-handers in the bullpen -- including Strahm, Travis Wood and Mike Minor -- didn't work in Alexander's favor.

"I knew with all the lefties they had that it would be tough," Alexander said. "They just told me to go to Omaha and be ready. This is great to be back here. This is where you want to be."

Alexander has a 3.60 ERA over 21 appearances for the Royals from 2015-16.

Top Prospects: Junis, KC

Junis, the club's No. 6 prospect, impressed Yost this spring as well.

"He's got some swing and miss in him," said Yost, who called his son, Ned, to get an extra scouting report on Junis. Ned Jr. is the third-base coach for Colorado Springs, which played Omaha last week during a Junis start.

"He said [Junis] did really, really good," Yost said.

Junis was having dinner with his wife, Brianne, when he got the news of his promotion.

"We literally just cancelled our order and got out of the restaurant," Junis said. "I was shocked."

Junis had a 3.25 ERA in 21 starts at Double-A Northwest Arkansas last season. He and Alexander will both be coming out of the bullpen.

"We'll just match them up where we can," Yost said.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.