Kansas City Royals: Should Chris Young be in the Starting Rotation


The Kansas City Royals and every other Major League Baseball team play 162 regular season games per year. That means there is plenty of time for knee-jerk, and over, reactions. Saying Chris Young should replace Jeremy Guthrie in the starting rotation could be both, but it also might make a ton of sense.

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Young has thrown just 9 2/3 innings so far this season, but they also have been nearly flawless. He has given up just four hits and two runs (in the same April 16 outing against the Chicago White Sox), and is coming off a five-inning, no-hit, nine-strikeout spot start Friday in a win against the Detroit Tigers.

Guthrie’s numbers on the other hand have been less than ideal. He is lucky to be just 1-2 through four starts after yielding 21 runs in just 29 innings. If his 6.52 ERA isn’t enough to scare you, his 1.52 WHIP (Walks and hits/innings pitched) should. The 36-year-old receives a ton of credit because he has pitched more than 200 innings in a season five times, including the past two for Kansas City. While that is important, other numbers tell the story as well.

Young has gone a solid 67-52 over an injury-riddled 11-year career, where Guthrie is just 84-102 with a 4.27 ERA. Young’s ERA is nearly a half run lower, while his 1.21 WHIP bests Guthrie’s 1.32.

The 6-foot-10 Young has never thrown more than 179 1/3 innings in a season, and that was way back in 2006 with the San Diego Padres. Guthrie has certainly proven to be more durable. However, if Young were to hurt himself, the Royals would have an insurance policy with Guthrie. It’s not like the Royals desperately need Young in the bullpen. Their relief pitching has been so good teams virtually have no chance against the Royals if they are trailing after six innings — and that’s without closer Greg Holland for most of the year.[table id=11 /]

The only reason Young has pitched more innings this season than is needed to register a win in one start, is because Edinson Volquez was suspended for his role in an earlier brawl. If Young can pitch well as a starter he could help a rotation that is ranked 19th in MLB with a 4.25 ERA. As good as Young has been in relief, the rest of the bullpen has been better.

The front-end of the rotation is set with Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, and Volquez. Guthrie and Jason Vargas (2-1, 5.95 ERA), have been shaky at best. However, at least Vargas has had a quality start and another just one inning shy of qualifying as one. Replacing Guthrie with Young makes sense, but it wouldn’t be a popular move for most fans. Guthrie is reliable, durable, and likable, a trio of superlatives matched by few. The question of what to do with him (a move to the pen, or demotion, which doesn’t seem likely) would remain.

It might not be time to make the move yet, but if Guthrie continues to struggle, it could happen soon. It’s always ideal to keep your starting rotation consistent, but there is shuffling at the back end with every team. Fifth starters are fifth starters  for a reason — they aren’t as good as the top guys. This means some are always pitching for their jobs.

That didn’t appear to be the case for Guthrie at the start of the year. If he doesn’t throw better soon, from a business standpoint (and isn’t that all professional sports really are?), a move has to be made.

Young might be just what the baseball gods ordered.

Next: KC Royals Crushing Fantasy Expectations

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