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Breaking Down The Royals Rotation

We are slowly approaching Spring Training 2012 when the Kansas City Royals start arriving on February 20th in Surprise, Arizona. The Royals will be looking to improve on their 71-91 record from last year and hope to challenge for the division title this season. Kansas City certainly will have a better chance, this year than the past few seasons, at pushing the rest of the AL Central for the division title with its young and talented core of players beginning to make their impact on the major leagues.

As the Royals roster is constructed currently, I see this team in the 75-83 win range. This is mainly due to the starting rotation and that the team is still very young. The 2012 Royals team will look similar to 2011 with only a few changes:

The Royals lineup and bench will have a good balance of veterans and young players and manager Ned Yost will continue to try to get to most out of every player to have a sniffing chance at the division crown. If opening day was today the Royals lineup should look something like this:

  1. LF Alex Gordon
  2. 2B Johnny Giavotella
  3. 1B Eric Hosmer
  4. DH Billy Butler
  5. RF Jeff Francoeur
  6. 3B Mike Moustakas
  7. C Salvador Perez
  8. CF Lorenzo Cain
  9. SS Alcides Escobar

Bench: C Brayan Pena, IF Chris Getz, IF Yuniesky Betancourt, OF Mitch Maier, OF Jarrod Dyson or IF Kevin Kouzmanoff

This is all pre-spring training and there is plenty of time for things to develop and change. I would imagine Yost will go with 14 position players and 11 pitchers but he certainly could use the extra pitcher with the current Royals rotation. It will be interesting to watch how the bench battles develop – one or two reserve outfielders and two or three reserve infielders.

Now, let’s compare the Royals rotation and closer situation to the rest of the AL Central:

Chicago Cleveland Detroit Kansas City Minnesota
1 John Danks (8-12 4.33) Ubaldo Jimenez (10-13 4.68) Justin Verlander (24-5 2.40) Luke Hochevar (11-11 4.68) Carl Pavano (9-13 4.30)
2 Gavin Floyd (12-13 4.37) Fausto Carmona (7-15 5.25) Doug Fister (11-13 2.83) Bruce Chen (12-8 3.77) Francisco Liriano (9-10 5.09)
3 Phil Humber (9-9 3.75) Justin Masterson (12-10 3.21) Max Scherzer (15-9 4.43) Jonathan Sanchez (4-7 4.26) Scott Baker (8-6 3.14)
4 Chris Sale (2-2 2.79) Josh Tomlin (12-7 4.25) Rick Porcello (14-9 4.75) Felipe Paulino (4-10 4.46) Nick Blackburn (7-10 4.49)
5 Jake Peavy (7-7 4.92) Derek Lowe (9-17 5.05) Jacob Turner (0-1 8.53) Danny Duffy (4-8 5.64) Brian Duensing (9-14 5.23)
CL Matt Thornton Chris Perez Jose Valverde Joakim Soria Joel Zumaya

 

It should be clear that Detroit and Cleveland are a definite 1 and 2 in terms of pitching with Kansas City, Minnesota and Chicago battling for third and beyond. The Royals bullpen was a surprising strong point last season and should be solid once again. Kansas City can certainly claim to have the top bullpen or #2 in the AL Central right now just based on last year’s numbers and player histories.

In order for Kansas City to have any shot at a division title run a few things need to happen: the bats need to continue to improve on last season with another year of experience under their belt, the bullpen to dominate with everyone returning along with new flame-thrower Broxton joining the crew, the rotation will need to prove the doubters wrong with quality starts keeping the bats in the game to get to the strong pen to close it out, and, of course, a little luck. Easier said than done, right? Hurry up spring.

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One Response to “Breaking Down The Royals Rotation”

  1. Matthew Streeter says:

    I didn’t do a great job of breaking down the rotation so here we go…

    1. RHP Hochevar – former #1 overall pick had his best season of his major league career last season going 11-11 with a 4.68 ERA and 128 K in 198 IP. Those certainly aren’t ace type numbers. Luke was an innings eater last year and more of a #3 starter.

    2. LHP Chen – took less money to return back to Kansas City this offseason. Bruce was the most consistent starter on the staff and needs to continue his ninja like ways. Still pitches more like a #3 starter as well.

    3. LHP Sanchez – traded for Melky Cabrera in the offseason who is coming off a tough season filled with injury and struggles but had a 3.4 WAR season in 2010 when he went 13-9. If Jonathan gets back to there the Royals have a clear #2 or borderline #1.

    4. RHP Felipe Paulino – came over from the Rockies last May in a trade and pitched decently in 20 starts. He had a 1.9 WAR season for KC with a 4-6 record, 4.68 ERA, and nearly a 1-1 IP/K (124/119). It will be fun to see what he does over an entire season without getting moved around.

    5. LHP Danny Duffy – finished his rookie season with a 4-8 record, 5.64 ERA, and 87 K in 105.1 IP. Danny looks to improve on his inconsistent first season. He should be focusing on his control and not walk as many batters so he can go deeper into games.

    The Royals have also said in the past that Aaron Crow will get a look as a starter in the spring but I really think they should keep him in the pen. Kansas City also has Luis Mendoza, Sean O’Sullivan, and Vin Mazzaro but also don’t forget about Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi, John Lamb, and Chris Dwyer all getting ever closer to the bigs. Things are getting better for Kansas City Royals fans. Patience!

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