Bruce Chen won 12 games in 2010. He came back to win 12 again last season. Name the last Royal lefty to post back-to-back seasons with at least 12 wins.
It looked for some time like Chen wouldn’t have the chance to add to that string of 12-win seasons. But last week Chen inked a two-year deal that will hold his place in the KC rotation.
Chen is what the Royals need at this moment. He’s not a fire-balling ace. He’s not a young phenom with limitless potential. Those are nice to have, and we would take them in a heartbeat.
But what Chen is fills a need in KC. You see, the Royals have phenoms. They have players with tons of potential. They even have starting pitchers with great ability. But they haven’t won anything yet. Not at the big league level.
Bruce Chen has shown over the last two seasons that he knows how to win games.
The other Royals last season? Not so much.
Kyle Davies showed for years that he knew how to lose games. Luke Hochevar showed last year that he knew how to let winnable games slip away. Felipe Paulino, for all his promise, didn’t show that he knew how to win games. And Danny Duffy showed he has no idea what’s going on.
The addition of Jonathan Sanchez was heralded as a significant upgrade in the Royals’ rotation. But it remains to be seen if Sanchez is not a year removed from his best work. A little too reminiscent of Jeff Francis to have the hope of a franchise placed on him.
I hope Sanchez is a difference maker in KC. I hope he’s a 20 game winner. But I feel safer in hoping that Chen can win 12 games again, milking the most out of his average physical ability. And by doing so, I hope he shows Hochevar and Paulino and Duffy how to get the most out of their considerable talents.
And if Chen can win 12 games in 2012 and in 2013, he’ll match which pitcher as the last Royals lefty to win 12 in four straight seasons?
That would be none other than Charlie Leibrandt, who won 60 games over a four-year span from 1985 to 1988, and picked up a World Series ring in the process.