Kansas City Royals pitcher James Shields (33) Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals: Replicating the Rotation


The Kansas City Royals had one of the best starting pitching staffs in the American League last year.  If they want to make the playoffs, they are going to have to find a way to replicate a 3.70 ERA over 986 innings pitched.   This may seem like a big task but, so long as James Shields stays healthy, I think they can do it.

James Shields is a lock for 200 innings and should post a sub 3.50 ERA.  Jeremy Guthrie should get between 180 and 200 innings with a league average, 4.00 ERA.

Losing Ervin Santana and his 3.24 ERA over 211 innings is a huge hit that needs to be made up for.  Luckily(?) they had Wade Davis and Luis Mendoza dragging them down.  If you put those 3 together and add Bruce Chen’s 15 starts they combined for an ERA of 4.19 over 502 innings.  500 innings of better than average ERA?

That can be replaced without much trouble at all.

We can argue about whether the contracts are worth the production, but signing Chen again and adding Jason Vargas are big steps towards keeping this becoming a great rotation.  Vargas has averaged 189 innings with a 4.04 ERA, 94 ERA+, over the last 3 years.

 His peripheral numbers make him look like a clone of Guthrie.  With the great defense behind him I expect his ERA to drop just a bit.

Over the last 3 years Chen has had a 4.14 ERA with an average of 156 innings per year.  He’s also 37 years old.  One hundred innings with a 4.5 ERA should be expected.  By the All Star Break, he should be back in the bullpen unless he’s filling in for an injury in the rotation.

The last spot is either going to Danny Duffy or Yordano Ventura.  The Royals say Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis are competing for a starting spot.  If either of them gets a chance to start then something has gone terribly wrong.  

So, Duffy or Ventura.  As much as I would like to see both starting off in the rotation, I understand the hesitation of having 2 unproven starters.  The Kansas City Royals need to go with the hot hand out of Spring Training and keep the other starting in AAA on the same day.  

I think they’re going to keep Duffy up and ride him as long as they can.  I don’t believe that the Royals think that he can stay healthy all season, with the added benefit of not starting the clock on Ventura.  If Duffy is able to stay away from injuries, I fully expect Ventura to replace Chen in the rotation by June.  

There is no reason that this rotation cannot be as good as last year’s.  If they can keep everyone healthy, this could very well be the year that GMDM gets his 1,000 innings pitched from the starters.

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Tags: Danny Duffy James Shields Kansas City Royals Yordano Ventura

7 Comments on Kansas City Royals: Replicating the Rotation

  1. Niddy87 says:

    Should of waited on Vargas and could of had Santana cheaper now… But he may disappear since this is not a contract year.

    • Christian camlin says:

      Vargas signed himself.We did no Convincing him to sign with us.He figured that pitching to Salvador Perez would lower his ERA and might make him a star.So he called us and said make me a deal.We low balled him at 4 years for 32 million.Vargas then shocked them by signing with us on our first offer.I think he figured out that what Perez and our defense could do for him was more important than a few extra bucks.He saw how it helped Guthrie so he figured it could help get him to 15-20 wins .

  2. jimfetterolf says:

    If Luke and/or Wade are in the rotation it’s because something went terribly right, that Hochevar’s fix of his men on base problem has stuck and that Davis has locked in his mechanics so he knows where his fastball is going. That’s what spring training is for and I’m sure the Royals and most fans would rather have Hochevar at his ceiling in the rotation than Chen at his, as Hoch is the RH version of Duffy’s stuff. The present is all that management will be looking at.

    • Christian camlin says:

      Jim I’m not sure what planet you have been on in the last year or 2 but I live in KC and can tell you 95% of royals want never to see Hochevar in the Starting Rotation ever again.Chen is already in the 4 spot according to management.That means Duffy,Ventura,,Davis & Hochevar are fighting for the 5 spot.But the race is not from the same starting line.The job is Duffy’s to lose with Ventura being the most likely to upset Duffy.But Ventura will have to soundly beat Duffy to win the job.A tie goes to Duffy.And if Davis, Hochevar or Penny win the job it will be because either a slew of injuries hit the team or because Duffy and Ventura have forgotten how to pitch.Davis and Hochevar can pitch great this spring but if either Duffy or Ventura are healthy and have pitched well one of them will take the job.the last 3 springs the Royals best pitcher in spring training was Luis Mendoza.Duffy will have to get hurt or do a Rick Ankiel type job to lose the spot.And the odds of both Duffy & Ventura going down in Spring training is really very low.

      • jimfetterolf says:

        Duffy and Ventura will both be on pitch limits and Ventura could achieve Super Two status with an early start. Would you rather start both a month late or shut them down September 1st?

        Mendoza pitched well early in the year after winning his job. Then he got dead arm because he hadn’t shut down over the winter.

        • Christian camlin says:

          Neither Duffy or Ventura will be on pitch limits.As confused as Ned may get he has made no statement indicating this.Duffy’s injury is now 2 years back and Ventura never got hurt in the first place.Myself I want the best pitcher out there period.We have neither pitch limits or inning limits on our pitchers.also you indicate poor knowledge of the Mendoza situation last year.Mendoza pitched every winter for the last 5 years.His troubles last year came in part because Ned wanted the guy gone period.For Example Ned used Kottaras to catch for Mendoza.Kottaras problems with game calling insured that Mendoza would have trouble.Ned also skipped him whenever possible taking him out of rhythm.And Ned also had a tendency to leave Mendoza in too long when he was getting shelled.Another oddity was that Mendoza was the 1st pitcher dropped from the opening day rotation even though Davis ERA was over a run higher.Ned’s continual Yo-Yo approach to Mendoza was proof that he could place a personal Vendetta ahead of winning games.Looking at the Catchers ERA’s for Perez & Kottaras they are not close.Perez 3.36 allowed while catching was far better than Kottaras 3.98.And Perez Career mark is still .59 better than Kottaras Career mark proving it was no fluke.Using Kottaras to catch over half Mendoza’s start clearly cost Mendoza any real shot at performing in the 2013 Royals Rotation.All this said Hochevar and Davis are amazing pitchers out of the Pen who are at best average as starters.The 5th spot is only 1 spot.If Duffy stalls or gets hurt Ventura can pick up the slack.Chen can hold the 4 spot so we may not have use both Duffy & Ventura in the Rotation all year long.Realistically we will need both to pitch in our 2015 rotation.Which is Fine but if possible it would be best to keep Ventura in Omaha until July of 2014.Obviously injuries and other things could speed or slow this time table.

          • jimfetterolf says:

            You should keep up on the news, both Ventura and Duffy will be capped at 175-180 innings, already been announced and is predictable. So that asks the question, do you start them slow and have them for September and the playoffs or do you start them fast and shut them down in September?

            As for Mendoza, he got a dead arm. ERA won’t show that, game logs will, he started good, then wore down.

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