This year has been tough on Royals starting pitchers and Tuesday night was a prime example. Ervin Santana pitched a seven inning gem, but after an eighth inning bullpen meltdown, Kansas City lost 4-3 to the Indians. Another hard-luck no-decision for a Royals starter.
James Shields‘ struggle to earn a win has been well documented. His last win came on April 30, despite a 2.72 ERA for the season.
Santana’s ERA is actually better than Shields’ at 2.64 and he has also found it difficult to earn wins (he’s 5-5 on the season). Both pitchers have received little run support, with the Royals averaging 3.33 runs per game in Shields’ starts and 3.46 in Santana’s starts.
When you look at the numbers, however, both have pitched extremely well. While the Shields trade this off-season drew all the headlines, the acquisition of Santana has been just as vital for the Royals success this year.The Royals acquired Santana in an October 31, 2012 trade with the Angels in exchange for minor league pitcher Brandon Sisk.
The 6-foot-2 right-hander from the Dominican Republic has been a workhorse for the Royals all season. In every one of his 14 starts this year, Santana pitched at least six innings. Slotted in the second spot in the Kansas City rotation, Santana has delivered sparkling numbers this season.
Santana’s 2.64 ERA is the fifth best in the American League, as is his 0.98 WHIP. Santana got off to a great start to the season, going 3-1 in April despite losing his first outing.
May was a rough month for Santana as he lost four straight games during one stretch. He had trouble with the home run ball giving up four homers in a start against the Angels on May 23 and three homers against the Cardinals on May 28. His record dropped to 3-5 at the end of May and his ERA jumped to 3.33.
But that bad stretch was short-lived as Santana has been dominant in June. In four June starts, Santana has allowed just three runs and brought his record back to 5-5.
In eight seasons with the Angels, Santana was 96-80, with a 4.33 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. His best year was 2008 when he was an All Star selection and went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA.
Santana had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2012 with the Angels, going 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA while allowing a career worst 39 home runs. But the Royals believed in his talent and so far this season he is rewarding the confidence that the organization showed him.
Santana’s hits per nine innings are down from his time with the Angels and his strikeout to walk rate is up to a career-best 5.13 after it was just 2.18 in 2012.
It has been a bit of an up and down year for Santana, but if he can build on his stellar June, and has a bit more luck, the wins will come.