Kansas City Royals 2014 Rotation Options
In 2013, the Kansas City Royals had a surprisingly good rotation something Kansas City fans haven’t seen in quite a while. Giving the Royals just under 1000 innings on the year (986.2), the starters combined for a 3.87 ERA. However, nine different pitchers started and contributed to those numbers. Some of those pitchers filled in for spot starts/ late season call-ups, but some of them were to replace under-performers at the end of the rotation.
This season, Kansas City may be looking at the same kind of situation. The first three spots of the rotation are solidified. James Shields as the ace, and veterans, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas, will fill the #2 and #3 role. After that, the rest of the rotation remains a mystery. Free Agent, Ervin Santana, has yet to sign with a team, but most people within Kansas City assume he is as good as gone. Assuming the Royals don’t sign any other starting pitcher still available in the free agent market, that narrows their options for the final two slots of the rotation down to about four or five options.
The leading candidate to take the fourth spot in the rotation right out of Spring Training right now is LHP Danny Duffy. Duffy has been plagued with injuries during his whole short three-year career, however he has shown that he has electric stuff and if he can stay healthy and under control, he has potential to be quite dominant.
Ventura is the leading candidate in my mind for no other reason besides his youth and potential. In only 3 career starts last September, Ace Ventura had a 3.52 ERA in 15.1 innings. Ventura is similar to Duffy in that he is young and electric, but at times can struggle with control issues. If both of these youngsters can get into a groove early on, the Royals will have no rotation problems for the rest of the season.
It is likely that Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar will get a chance to win a starting role in Spring Training. These two pitchers are alike in that they have both thrived in the bullpen but struggled mightily as starters. My guess is that if either of them want to win a spot in the rotation, they will have to really dazzle Ned Yost in Spring Training. Moving either of them to the rotation is not only risky, but also takes away from the bullpen.
A dark-horse candidate, who I don’t think the Royals have considered heavily yet, is free agent LHP, Bruce Chen. Chen has had a great run for the Royals being exactly what we need this year; a fill guy while prospects develop. He would likely be a cheap option so that we wouldn’t have to rely on two unproven youngsters (Ventura and Duffy) or two under-performing veterans (Hochevar and Davis) on what most people in Kansas City claim to be a year to “go all-in”.
I assume it will be Duffy and Ventura in the #4 and #5 spot on Opening Day, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Chen in one of those spots.
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