The Kansas City Royals’ rotation looked bleak after the tragic death of Yordano Ventura just weeks ago. Now, however, general manager Dayton Moore has added pieces and the rotation competition will be interesting.
Before Yordano Ventura had passed away, the Royals were probably looking at him as the number two in the rotation with Danny Duffy as the one. From there, it’d likely have been Ian Kennedy, Jason Vargas, and then the fifth spot was up for grabs between Nate Karns, Chris Young, or a minor league guy.
After Ventura’s death, the KC Royals still had a season to play in 2017 and needed to somehow find a way to replace his spot in the rotation. It wouldn’t be easy, as Ventura was one of the flashiest young pitchers in all of Major League Baseball. You can’t replace a 25-year old who can throw over 100 MPH.
Dayton Moore responded to the conversations about adding another arm by inking Jason Hammel to a two-year contract. Hammel pitched his way to a 15-10 record with the Chicago Cubs last season and an ERA of 3.83.
Even more recently, Moore added Travis Wood to the roster, who can provide depth in either the rotation or in the bullpen. With Wood’s addition to the team, this rotation competition could be a lot of fun.
We know for certain that Duffy and Kennedy will probably be the one and two guys. I don’t see that changing. Duffy wasn’t signed to an extension to be anything other than the number one guy in the rotation.
Kennedy had a nice 2016 season and would have been a solid option as the number three in the rotation. Now, however, he’ll be bumped up to the second spot.
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From there, Hammel and Vargas will be third and fourth, assuming Vargas stays healthy. That final spot is where the drama will be this spring.
The KC Royals traded Jarrod Dyson for Nate Karns earlier this winter in a deal that broke the hearts of everyone in Kansas City. Karns hasn’t put up great numbers just yet during his career, but he’s 29 years old and could be a nice option in that fifth spot.
There’s also Chris Young, who the Royals really like. Young struggled in 2016, giving up home runs on every other pitch (or so it seemed), but he’s due for a bounce back year for sure. Young’s role could range from a starter to a spot starter or he could be even be a long reliever out of the pen.
Travis Wood has spent time as both a starter and as a reliever, but worked out of the bullpen all of last season. He pitched in 77 games for the Cubs and I like him in a relief role for the Kansas City Royals in 2017.
Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star tweeted out that Ned Yost wanted Mike Minor and Matt Strahm in the bullpen. That means the likely competition for the fifth and final spot in the rotation would be between Karns, Wood, and Young.
Between those three, this should be a fun little competition heading into spring training. Young struggled as a starter last season, but looked fantastic in 2015. Karns split time between the rotation and the bullpen while with the Mariners last season. Wood spent all of 2016 as a reliever for the Cubs.
It’s nice to see some friendly competition heading into the early part of the season. The Kansas City Royals will also have depth to add to the rotation should someone get injured, as we saw frequently last year.
What do you think of the Royals rotation? Who do you want to get the fifth spot?