I’m going to take a step away from my usual optimistic take on the Royals right now. Now standing at 31-39, 6 games back of the White Sox, and just 1.5 games ahead of the lowly Twins, the Royals just had their most heart-breaking series as of yet. The Cardinals outscored them 30-14 during the weekend series in Kansas City. The Royals’ starting pitchers (Vin Mazzaro, Luis Mendoza, and Jonathan Sanchez) combined for 11.1 innings, 17 runs (all earned), 7 Ks, 10 BBs (6 from Jonathan Sanchez), and 238 pitches (101 of which were balls).
Something has to change.
Here is how the current rotation is fairing according to WAR (Wins Above Replacement).
- Bruce Chen: 6-6, 4.54 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.6 WAR
- Vin Mazzaro: 3-2, 5.14 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 0.0 WAR
- Luis Mendoza: 2-4, 4.95 ERA, 4.5 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, -0.1 WAR
- Luke Hochevar: 4-7, 5.65 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, -0.3 WAR
- Jonathan Sanchez: 1-3, 6.21 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 7.3 BB/9 -0.3 WAR
Now, given, the Royals’ starting rotation has taken an absolute beating this season when it comes to health. Both Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino are Tommy John victims; Duffy, Paulino, Sanchez have had stints on the DL; basically every starter outside of Bruce Chen has had extreme bouts of inconsistency.
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The bottom line is this: No self-respecting organization would consistently trot a rotation like this one out to the mound 5-7 days a week.
The losses of Duffy (6 starts, 2-2, 3.90 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 5.9 BB/9) and Paulino (7 starts, 3-1, 1.67 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9) really hurt this team, as they were arguably the most effective and consistent starters the Royals have had this season.
The Royals have had a myriad of mostly ineffective fill-ins and spot-starters this season: Luis Mendoza (13 games, 8 starts), Vin Mazzaro (6 games, 5 starts), Will Smith (3 games, 3 starts), Nate Adcock (9 games, 2 starts), and Everett Teaford (3 games, 1 start). All in all, the Royals have had 10 different starting pitchers to date.
I’ll say it again: Something has to change.
Clearly, the type of work that has been done by Sanchez, Mendoza, Mazzaro, Hochevar, Smith, Adcock, and Teaford can be at least matched – if not bested – by almost anybody else (combined 253.1 IP, 11-22 record, 155 ER, 6.12 ERA).
Fans, bloggers, reporters, writers, radio hosts, and the like are all calling for the Royals to make a change.
Do something we haven’t seen before.
And most importantly for each and every Royals fan: Give us a reason to believe in this team. Show us that you want to give this organization the best chance to win.
Because these guys aren’t it.
I’m sure Dayton Moore hears us all clamoring for the team to make a move. Afterall, being harolded as a great baseball minded individual, he can’t possibly think that this is the best we can do. I’m sure he’s fielding trade offers to some degree, keeping in mind that Jake Odorizzi and Wil Myers are off the table.
Names like Matt Garza, Wandy Rodriguez, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Dempster, Joe Blanton, and many others are all floating around the rumor mill – with the Royals having possible interest in nearly all of them. Garza, as young and talented as he is, would command a major return since he isn’t arbitration eligible until after 2013. Rodriguez and Dempster fall more under the veteran rent-a-pitcher category for teams in a playoff push as they are both in the final year of their respective contracts. Guthrie and Blanton are both well-seasoned, over-paid veterans who could fill a spot in just about every team’s starting rotation - albeit as a teams third, fourth, or fifth starter. Outside of Matt Garza, acquiring any of the other names I mentioned would be virtual waste of time and prospects given the Royals current spot in the standings.
Of course, the other consideration: call somebody up!
Although the Royals pitching depth at the Triple-A level isn’t overwhelming right now, there are a few names who could do the same or better than what the Royals have in Kansas City right now.
- Jake Odorizzi: Izzy is the concensus’ top pitching prospect in the Royals’ system (and maybe even the organization’s best pitcher talent-wise). At 22, the right-hander has been dominating minor league hitters at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels. In his first 7 starts, while at Double-A NW Arkansas, Jake was 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 38 IP with a K:BB ratio of 4.7:1 and a WHIP of 0.97. Jake has continued to roll through minor league lineups after being promoted to Omaha to the tune of a 5-0 record with an ERA of just 2.72, a K:BB ratio of 3.2:1, and a 1.36 WHIP in 7 games (6 starts) totaling 39.2 innings. At this point, what more does he have to accomplish at the minor league level? This guy is big league ready in my opinion. It’s time for him to make the jump.
- Mike Montgomery: Monty has been passed by Odorizzi in the prospect rankings lately, as he has seen his performance decline since being promoted to Omaha in 2011. Struggles aside, Mike still has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues. So far, Mike has a 3-4 record in 14 starts this season with a less-than-stellar 4.76 ERA. He has 53 Ks in 79.1 IP, but he also has 38 BB – a 1.4 K:BB ratio (a 2:1 ratio is the standard). His performance as of late has been progressing, but it’s the lack of talent in Kansas City right now that could warrant his promotion. Maybe he just needs a change of scenery.
- Ryan Verdugo: The other guy KC got in the Melky Cabrera-Jonathan Sanchez trade, lefty Ryan Verdugo has been fairly good this season in Omaha. Before last season, Duggy had been used primarily as a reliever. He was converted into a starter while still in the Giants organization and has continued to start for the Storm Chasers. He’s 5-2 in 14 starts (79 IP), owning a 3.65 ERA, a 1.5:1 K:BB ratio, and a WHIP of 1.28. He was called up to the big league club back in June to serve out of the bullpen, but he never made an appearance before being optioned back down to Omaha. Given his numbers this season, Verdugo appears to be a serviceable rotation arm who should garner a serious look in Kansas City.
- Nate Adcock: After being selected by the Royals in the 2010-11 Rule 5 Draft, Adcock spent all of last season in Kansas City as the long-reliever/spot-starter – and did a failry decent job. The 24 year old sinkerballer was 1-1 with a 4.62 ERA in 24 games (3 starts) totaling 60.1 innings. In 2012, Nate has split time between Omaha (where he’s in the rotation) and Kansas City (in the same role he had last season). He’s done well enough in both spots (Omaha: 6 games/5 starts, 3-2, 3.03 ERA, 1.07 WHIP; KC: 9 games/2 starts, 0-3, 3.12 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) that one could assume that he could replicate those numbers against big league lineups. He at least deserves a chance.
- Everett Teaford: After toiling around in the minor leagues for 5+ seasons, lefty Everett Teaford, now 28, made his big league debut last season to the tune of a 2-1 record and 3.27 ERA in 26 games (3 starts). Like Adcock, Teaford has split time between Omaha and KC. In 3 games with Kansas City this season, he’s left a little to be desired given his 5.73 ERA and 7 walks in 3 games (1 start, 11 IP). But he’s pitched very well in Omaha, thus far going 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in 7 games (6 starts). His WHIP is solid at 0.97, and he’s striking out nearly 7 hitters per 9 innings. He’s the most likely to be called up soon in my mind since he’s a lefty and can fill a hole in either the rotation or the ‘pen.
- Will Smith: Will got a shot at being a member of the big league rotation in late May and early June, sandwiching one quality start with two less-than-quality outings (1-2, 9.00 ERA). His record in Omaha doesn’t look much much better (1-4, 11 starts), but he has a semi-respectable 4.65 ERA and a 3:1 K:BB ratio. At 22 years old, Will may not have been ready to play with the big boys when he was first called up. And he may not be ready if his name is called once again. But, as I’ve said before, he presents more hope and potential than most of the starters the Royals a currently sending to the mound.
- Doug Davis: At 36, Doug Davis is hardly a top prospect. But, for what it’s worth, the 13-year veteran is pitching well in Omaha. In 7 games (3 starts) Doug is 3-1 and sports a 3.08 ERA in 26.1 IP. I wouldn’t particularly like to see him take up space on the big league roster, but I guess there are worse choices.
Or just call up Wil Myers already. #FreeWilly