Leftridge: Royals’ Rotation Figures to be a Mixed Bag

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Seattle MarinersTo the surprise of nobody—and to the consternation, perhaps, of only those who dislike things that are totally awesome—fire-balling phenom Yordano Ventura has officially been named as the final starter in the 2014 Kansas City Royals rotation. Call it the spring’s most “no-duh” moment, I suppose, but it’s one of those formalities that had to be addressed.

After a completely dominant, nearly unhittable campaign—15 strikeouts in 15 innings while only walking one, a WHIP lower than one, and a measly three earned runs—the 22-year-old Dominican will slide into the third spot in the rotation behind ace James Shields and new-hire Jason Vargas.

So if you’re needlepointing something to commemorate the season, the rotation is set  like this:

1) Shields

2) Vargas

3) Ventura

4) Jeremy Guthrie

5) Bruce Chen

Or if you want to include my thoughts on your needlepoint, too, it’d look something like this:

1) Nice!

2) Um.

3) CAN’TWAITFORTHIS

4) Um.

5) 🙁

james-shieldsShields could be a legit number two on almost any team in the league, and an ace on many others. He’s competitive, often-great, and playing out his last season with KC. If there’s any player on this team who is more of a sure-thing, I don’t know who it is. (Salvador Perez, perhaps?)

I’ve spoken previously at some length about this past December’s acquisition of Vargas, and my thoughts on the matter. In a nutshell, it’s like this: I didn’t understand it then, and I don’t understand it now. He’s not a BAD pitcher, per se, he’s just very, very average. I don’t think he was overpaid, necessarily, I just wonder why it took a four year deal to get him here.  He’s an innings-eater, I guess, but there are cheaper guys who offer the same amount of innings-eating abilities and could have provided more long-term upside. But, OK, he’s the number two starter, so what can you do?

And then there’s Maude Ventura.

I don’t think I’ve been as excited about a homegrown pitching prospect since Zack Greinke first stepped foot on Kaufmann Stadium soil. (And showed a lot of promised, then sucked, then showed some more promise before finally becoming one of the best pitchers in the league.)

Ventura’s stuff is electric. It’s amazing. It’s astounding and awe-inspiring. It’s like watching a sunset over the Pacific ocean while fireworks go off and a rocket shoots into the sky and a bald eagle swoops by, and you’re drinking an ice-cold beer on the beach and eating a slice of the best pizza you’ve ever had and you’re getting a BJ from Kate Upton while your accountant—who’s sitting on the beach next to you, for some weird reason—is telling you that you’ve got too much damn money in your bank account, so of course you should go ahead and buy that suit made out of polar bear fur.

Call me crazy, but I think Ventura is already poised as a favorite for Rookie of the Year, and barring some sort of debilitating injury (which means I’d just go ahead and kill myself), he’ll win a Cy Young within the next three.

I love Yordano Ventura, and I don’t care who knows it.

571px-Bruce_Chen_on_July_27,_2009Then you’ve got Guthrie and Chen, and perhaps, the less said about these two, the better. (Look, I love both of these guys as dudes. They seem like legitimately good guys, and quite honestly, I think they can still both be serviceable to some degree. But statistically, Guthrie seems due for a regression—prove me wrong, J!—and I’m just constantly sad that Bruce Chen is even in the discussion as a starter… even if it is for the last spot in the rotation.)

Anyway, you probably don’t have the room on your needlepoint for all of this nonsense, but the gist of it is, I’m not worried about James Shields, I’m irresponsibly optimistic about Yordano Ventura, and one of the other starters needs to be a whole lot better than I’m expecting, should the Royals have any chance at seriously competing.

So basically—with regard to the starting rotation—this feels a lot like the start to most seasons in ol’ KC.

But remember, whatever you do, BE ROYAL. (?)

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, @StanfordWhistle

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10 Responses to Leftridge: Royals’ Rotation Figures to be a Mixed Bag

  1. rkcal says:

    Are you forgetting the days when Chen would’ve been our opening day starter? This rotation works IF run production takes a step forward. The key to this season (besides Ventura becoming the Royals’ version of Fernando Valenzuela) is Moustakas becoming a legitimate run producer. So what I’m sayin’ is we have a chance……….

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      And I do agree. Thank the good lord above that Chen ISN’T the ace, because you’re right, five years ago that easily could have been the case.

  2. mike t. says:

    you think duffy should be in instead of chen?

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      I think it’s gotta be Duffy sooner rather than later… we’re not at a “poop or get off the pot” point, but he needs to be starting SOMEWHERE.

  3. Paul says:

    I wonder if Ned plans on using Chen and Duffy like he did Mendoza and Chen last year. Chen begins the season in the rotation, gives the team half a season then moves to the pen for Duffy to take his spot in the second half.

    Or, the same could be true for Ventura and Duffy. I don’t see any way the Royals let Ventura pitch more than 150 innings this year.

  4. the dude says:

    Royals gonna do what Royals do.

  5. Mysterious J says:

    Look, if you want to support a team that is going to have well above league average starters at 4 and 5 in the rotation, you are going to have to give up being a Royals fan. The pitching is going to take a step backwards from last year, get used to it. This team will live or die on being able to generate more offense.

    It certainly is disappointing that Duffy totally choked on his chance to nail down a spot in the rotation…even if it does mean we get to see Ventura instead. Chances are we will need someone to pick up some starts aside from the five guys mentioned above (even if they are all amazingly healthy, the new wacky schedule inevitably requires a lot of double headers). I don’t think it takes a baseball genius to understand that Duffy is going to have a lot easier time getting ready to be called into duty starting every 5th day up I-29 than picking up a few mop-up innings once a week or so out of the KC pen.

  6. CG says:

    Well at least the Royals will compete for a division title. The Chiefs as they we know will not. 45 years since a Super Bowl, more than 20 years since the Chiefs won a playoff game. One of the NFL’s all time worst franchises. No question. There is no hope for this lost front office. NONE. We have NOTHING. Oh yes a solid quarterback with nothing else. One of the NFL’s all time worst defenses. Oh I forgot we have all those ALL Pros.

    The Royals are trying with a limited budget. The Chiefs are not limited just don’t have anyone to really run the ship. Couldn’t figure out the term SALARY CAP… I can’t wait to write about their off season disaster. “Everyone wants to play for Andy” yep. Like who. If Alex could leave he would. He’s all you got right now. Without that guy you win 3-5 games. Anyone who can’t see that doesn’t know the NFL.

    Good luck Royals. They have a chance.

  7. Harry Balczak says:

    The keys are Ventura and ( ugh ) Vargas. If somehow Dayton Moore has seen something in Vargas that has never shown up in his performance perhaps there are 3 pretty good starters here. Guthrie as a number 4 is acceptable knowing there is Zimmer and maybe Duffy in the wings. I actually like Chen as a 5. He is a classic number 5 starter that can keep other teams off their game by looking at his slow garbage all game long and then on the next night making them not be able to adjust to Shield’s heat.

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