Tag Archive | "Fifth Starter"

St. Louis Cardinals’ Bullpen Battle Takes Center Stage for Roster Decisions

The St. Louis Cardinals came to spring training with very few roster decisions to make.  Most of those decisions have been reached in the last few days.

KeithButler

Kolten Wong appears to be the starting second baseman, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos will share time in center field, Joe Kelly will be the fifth starter, Carlos Martinez will serve as the eighth-inning reliever and Pat Neshek has seemingly made the club.  That leaves only one decision to be made: Which pitcher will join the bullpen as the seventh reliever?

The competition comes down to three young hopefuls: Jorge Rondon, Scott McGregor and Keith Butler.  Those three arms head into the final week of spring training hoping to win a spot on the roster of players heading north to Cincinnati for Opening Day.

Butler is the known commodity of the group, having pitched 20 innings over 16 games for the Cardinals in 2013.  His performance was far from dominant, walking 11 hitters while striking out 16, but it is enough to earn him consideration yet again.

His spring performance does not look that great either, having thrown just over eight innings and surrendering eight runs.  His five walks this spring may raise a flag concerning control.  His minor league stats from 2013 do not seem to suggest it is a long term problem, as he only walked 11 hitters over 41 innings.

Rondon is another in the long line of power arms the Cardinals seem to be able to produce from their farm system.  The difference with him is that he may not have full control over the lively stuff he pushes across the plate.  He has only walked three hitters this spring while striking out seven.

Perhaps most telling is the fact that Rondon has yet to surrender a run.  Rondon did pitch in Memphis last season and did well despite the control issues he faced.  In just under 68 innings, he walked 37 hitters while striking out 42.  He may need a little more time in the minors to prove he has his control settled before making the team.

Manager Mike Matheny shared his thoughts on Rondon with Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

With Rondon, you’re looking at stuff and someone who has improved.  We gave him a task of pounding the strike zone and simplifying his approach. He’s done well and seen some results.

The long shot of the group is McGregor, who is a non-roster invitee to camp.  His four innings over three games this spring have yielded three runs, two walks and a pair of strikeouts.  McGregor spent 2013 as a starter in the Cardinals’ minor leagues and is seemingly being looked at as a long relief option.

While he struggles for consistency as well as playing time, his placement on the team would also require a subsequent roster move to make room on the 40-man.

Rondon and McGregor may have taken advantage of the situation to get their names in the minds of those in charge.  Unfortunately, it may come down to experience and the product Matheny already knows.

The final relief position likely belongs to Butler unless something goes horribly wrong.

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.com.

Follow him on Twitter to discuss all things baseball throughout the season.

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Kansas City Royals’ Rotation Finalized: What About Danny Duffy?

The Kansas City Royals have put the final touches on their starting rotation.  Throughout the spring, a competition was formed between Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura for the final spot in the rotation.  On Monday, that competition officially came to a close.

DannyDuffy4

Manager Ned Yost announced on Monday to a group of reporters, including Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com, that there was no reason to hold back the announcement of the decision for the fifth starter.  With Duffy struggling this spring and Ventura being downright dominant, the time had come to make the decision official.

Ventura had thrown six shutout innings, striking out six Texas Rangers, on Monday night to solidify the decision.  That performance lowered Ventura’s spring ERA to 1.76 while elevating his strikeout total to 15 in just over 15 innings pitched.  The hard-throwing youngster did everything to prove that he was ready for this opportunity.

Competitions have winners and losers, however, and Duffy now finds himself on the outside looking in.  Early indications of the competition were that the loser would likely find himself in the starting rotation at Triple-A Omaha.  Due to the injury sustained by Luke Hochevar, now Duffy will be given the opportunity to claim the last bullpen spot.

The subject at hand is now which role better benefits Duffy in the long term?  He may be capable of claiming the final bullpen role but, despite his oddly weak spring performance, he has traditionally been a more than capable starter.

Ultimately, Duffy could see time as a starter this year and likely stands as the first player to receive a start should any of the current staff falter or become injured.  While sending him to Omaha may not be the best choice for his confidence, it may be the best option the team has for utilizing him efficiently later. Should someone find themselves hurt, it may be harder to slide Duffy out of the bullpen and into the rotation than it would to simply call him up from the minors.

Ventura pitched well enough to prove that he was ready.  He is likely the right man for the job.  Duffy carries the confidence of past success.  He has proven he can win at this level.

Both men will likely be in the rotation before the end of the season.  Until then, the question remains, what should be done with Duffy?

 

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.com
Follow him on Twitter to discuss all things baseball throughout the season

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Five storylines from Kansas City Royals camp

This has been an interesting spring for the Kansas City Royals. Some position battles have been settled, while others are still being hotly contested. Some players have sizzled in the Cactus League, while others have struggled. There is no shortage of news as Opening Day is inching closer and closer. Here are five storylines from Royals camp:

1) Yordano Ventura will crack starting rotation

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Ventura was in a battle for a spot in the Royals rotation this spring, with his main competition being Danny Duffy. Well it didn't end up being much of a battle in the end. Ventura has dazzled this spring forcing manager Ned Yost to name him as one of his five starters. After Ventura pitched six scoreless innings with six strikeouts against the Rangers on Monday there really wasn't a choice for Yost.

"We knew this was probably the way it was going to go," Yost said after Ventura pitched six innings of four-hit ball in a St. Patrick's Night, 6-0, greening of the Rangers at Surprise Stadium. "After tonight I think we've just seen enough. There's no reason not to announce this now." -Royals.com


Yost also told Royals.com that Ventura will slide into the third spot in the rotation behind James Shields and Jason Vargas, rather than as a fifth starter like many expected. This spring, Ventura has a 1.76 ERA over 15.1 innings and has held batters to a .185 average.

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Luke Hochevar out for the 2014 season, will have Tommy John surgery

In an otherwise quiet Royals spring training, the team announced Friday relief pitcher Luke Hochevar will have Tommy John surgery to fix ligament damage in his right elbow. A specific time and date for the surgery hasn’t been announced, but it’s likely to happen in the next two weeks.

Luke  Hochevar 2014

 

The injury occurred during last Monday’s game against the Chicago White Sox. Hochevar felt pain in his elbow on his next to last pitch and went to get a medical opinion in Los Angeles. The doctors gave him the option of rehabbing the elbow or Tommy John surgery. Hochevar and the Royals decided surgery was the best option.

Hochevar has a history of elbow problems. In 2010 he suffered a 20-40 percent tear in his ligament and rehabbed the elbow to continue pitching for another four years. But last Monday’s injury tore the ligament another 25 percent and made Tommy John surgery the only real option. Unfortunately for Hochevar, this happened after the Royals had their best season since 1989. With the Royals poised to be playoff contenders, Hochevar will not play an on-field role this season.

In the overall scope of the team and this season, Hochevar’s loss isn’t devastating. The Royals possess an already strong bullpen and Hochevar wasn’t considered as a starting rotation candidate. Wade Davis, a contender as a fifth starter, will take Hochevar’s spot in the bullpen.

The real devastation is to Hochevar. After several seasons as a starting pitcher where he didn’t live up to expectations as the overall number one pick in the 2006 Draft, Hochevar resuscitated his career as a reliever. Last season, Hochevar had a 1.92 ERA and two saves in 58 appearances, striking out 82 batters in 70.1 innings. In the final year of his contract, he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season. For a player in his final year of his contract before free agency, the surgery is an untimely blow.

In hindsight, perhaps Hochevar should have opted for Tommy John surgery back in 2010. He might have recovered enough to be a more effective starter and instead of being a part of the Royals bullpen, he would be one the team’s better starters. But at the time, he struggled as a starter and it’s likely Hochevar and the Royals decided that rehabbing the elbow was the better option. Looking at that now, it appears to be the wrong decision.

Hochevar faces an uncertain future. Instead of getting the chance of showing himself as a good bullpen pitcher before reaching free agency, he will have to sign for less years and money, wherever he ends up. It’s possible we’ve seen the Royals story of Luke Hochevar as a promising number one overall draft pick end with Tommy John surgery and an uncertain baseball future.

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Are the Royals For Real This Year?

I believe the Royals will do well this year. I know, there’s been a few years when it seemed the Royals would do well and they fell flat (like 2004, 2009 and 2012). If there’s any team out there who crushes fan’s expectations and pulls the rug out from underneath their fans, it’s the Kansas City Royals.

Kauffman Stadium

But 2013 isn’t like the hopeful mirage of the 2012 season. Yes, there was optimism in 2012, but with the exception of the bullpen, the team wasn’t that good. Throw in the injuries, the dismal play of Eric Hosmer and Jeff Francoeur, the inconsistent play of Mike Moustakas and the 12-game losing streak in April, it’s a surprise the Royals finished as well as they did.

But this year, things are different. The Royals overhauled the starting rotation by getting James Shields, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis and resigning Jeremy Guthrie. Last year’s Opening Day starter, Bruce Chen, is in the bullpen. So is Luke Hochevar. The bullpen is strong and should be stronger with the improved starting rotation pitching more innings. Except for the question marks of right fielder Jeff Francoeur and second baseman Chris Getz, the Royals have a competitive lineup, a lineup not relying on washed-up veterans like Juan Gonzalez or Jose Guillen (the jury is still out on Francoeur). And unlike the Injury Bug Attack of Two Aught Twelve which decimated a part of the team, this spring has almost been injury-free. And the Royals are Cactus League Champions, which doesn’t mean anything, but at least they played well.

And the team did things that made sense. Like moving Hochevar to the bullpen instead of forcing him to be a starter. Choosing Luis Mendoza over Chen as the fifth starter. Making Getz the starting second baseman (Johnny Giavotella didn’t play well enough to earn a spot). The Royals didn’t do anything this spring that made you go, “what were they thinking?” Well, Sluggerrr getting a lap dance at a 2005 bachelor party notwithstanding (Google it if you must, But I warn you it’s NSFW and a little, well, awkward).

But we are talking about the Royals. The Royals starters got roughed up in a few Spring Training games. Lately, lefty reliever Tim Collins hasn’t been pitching well. Eric Hosmer might be playing right field and Billy Butler might be at first base in Interleague games. Key players may suffer injuries. The momentum and winning in Spring Training may not continue into the regular season. The Royals might have another 12-game losing streak early in the season. Sure, all this happening is unlikely, but if any team can do it, the Royals can.

But not this year. I believe the Royals will play much better this season. Winning the World Series? Not likely. Winning the American League Pennant? There’s a slim chance. Winning the American League Central? Only if the Detroit Tigers suffer a rash of injuries and their offense, defense and pitching falter. A Wild Card Berth? With good teams in the A.L. East and A.L. West, it’s unlikely. Finishing above .500? I believe an 87-75 record and a second place finish in the A.L. Central behind Detroit is a realistic possibility.

I hope so anyway. I am a Royals fan, after all.

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Jason Motte injury might have helped St. Louis Cardinals’ Shelby Miller decision

The St. Louis Cardinals finally made their most-anticipated decision of their 2013 spring training camp Monday when they announced Shelby Miller would be the team’s fifth starter to start the regular season. And while Miller truly might be the better choice, circumstances surely made the decision easier.

Motte I70

Miller began spring training in a competition with teammates Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly to win the fifth and final spot in the Cardinals’ starting rotation.

The team quickly decided Rosenthal would be more of an asset in the bullpen after a couple of shaky starts early in spring training, but the battle between Miller and Kelly lasted nearly an entire month.

The competition lasted so long because the two pitchers had nearly identical stats throughout the spring. Both had one relatively bad outing, and each had several good appearances. Miller won the battle with a 3.94 earned-run average in five appearances with 13 strikeouts and five walks. Kelly posted a 5.54 ERA in five appearances, but he also allowed six walks and just two strikeouts.

But an injury to closer Jason Motte in the final week might have played as large a role in the final decision as anything. Motte fell victim to an elbow strain March 21 and will likely start the season on the disabled list.

That forced Mitchell Boggs into the closer’s role and opened up a spot at the front of the bullpen roster, which Kelly will likely fill now that the team has given Miller the starting job.

Kelly has experience in the bullpen. He was a closer while in college at the University of California-Riverside and made 15 relief appearances for the Cardinals in 2012 during the regular season and playoffs.

Plus, he performed well as a reliever. Kelly gave up just four earned runs in his eight regular-season relief appearances, and he allowed four runs in his seven playoff appearances.

The Cardinals were going to be in a difficult position if they gave Kelly the job and Motte hadn’t been injured. They wanted Miller to be a starter at some level, whether that be with the Cardinals or the Triple-A affiliate Memphis Redbirds, but they had groomed him as a starter in the minor leagues and were reluctant to put him in the bullpen.

Kelly, with his experience as a reliever, could more easily switch between the rotation and bullpen, but the Cardinals still might not have had a spot for him if Motte didn’t suffer his elbow injury.

The Cardinals already had plenty of righthanded relievers, including Boggs, Rosenthal, Edward Mujica and Fernando Salas.

That glut of pitchers might have forced the Cardinals to send Kelly to the minors if he didn’t win the starting job, but now they can keep both pitchers on the roster.

The Cardinals are taking a little bit more of a risk by choosing Miller as their fifth starter. Miller has pitched in just seven games as a major leaguer. He pitched well, posting a 1.32 ERA, but now the Cardinals will count on him to be a consistent starter for an entire season.

Kelly showed in 2012 he could be consistently effective for the better part of the season, and Miller will have to prove the same thing this year.

If he does, the Cardinals made a great spring-training decision. If not, they could be in for a long season that requires manager Mike Matheny constantly juggle his pitching staff, and those types of seasons rarely conclude with a playoff appearance.

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The Best Rotation Since…

I know I have been absent for a while, and you all know that I am prone to hyperbole, but the Royals recent revelation the Luis Mendoza has won the job of fifth starter has brought me out of the shadows…and my hyperbole with it. A month ago everyone considered it a lock that Luke Hochevar would win the fifth spot…and they sent him to the bullpen. A week ago we speculated that Bruce Chen would get the nod despite Mendoza’s outstanding offseason…and they sent him to the bullpen. What this leaves us with is quite possibly the best rotation for the Kansas City Royals in 20+ years. Let’s take a look at the contenders:

Luis_Mendoza

The Greinke Years

The signing of James Shields brought Kansas City a legitimate replacement for their last ace, Zach Greinke. What Shields possesses that Greinke did not is a legitimate rotation behind him. In 2010, Greinke’s last with the Royals, both Chen and Hochevar not only made the rotation but were arguably the team’s second and third best starters. In 08-09 the team had Gil Meche, a quality #2, but rounded the rotation out with Hochevar, Kyle Davies, and Brian Bannister. From 04-07 the Royals had only three pitchers post an ERA below 4, and less than half of the clubs’ starters were below 5. Clearly, no rotation from this era stacks up.

Best Rotation- 2009

Greinke, Meche, Hochevar, Bannister, Davies

Combined WAR: 12.6

The Allard Baird Era (pre-Greinke)

We don’t need to spend much time on this era at all. For every breakout performance from Paul Byrd or Darrell May, there were three Chad Durbins to mess up the rotation. Even in the club’s lone season above .500 their rotation was a mess. While May had a career year and posted a WAR of 5.7, the team had 25 starts (and an ERA well north of 7) from the trio of Chris George, Brad Voyles, and Kris Wilson.

Best Rotation- 2003

May, Jose Lima, Runelvys Hernandez, Kyle Snyder, Chris George

Combined WAR: 8.7

The Herk Robinson Era

As much time as I spent loathing Robinson, I can’t deny that he put together some of the best rotations in the last 30+ years. In 1999, all five starters in his rotation had a positive WAR, which doesn’t say much unless you’ve read the last two sections. In ‘96 Kevin Appier, Tim Belcher and Chris Haney all posted a WAR above 2 with 30+ starts. Jose Rosado posted a 3.3 in just 16 starts! Even veterans Mark Gubicza and Doug Linton were above replacement level. 1994 was even better. In a strike shortened season David Cone was incredible (16-5, 2.94 ERA, 6.6 WAR), Appier was his normal steady self (7-6, 3.83 ERA, 4.3 WAR) while Gubicza and Tom Gordon rounded out the top four nicely.  The only fault that can be found with this rotation is that the fifth spot was dreadful with Chris Haney and Bob Milacki combining for an ERA over 7.

Best Rotation- 1994

David Cone, Kevin Appier, Tom Gordon, Mark Gubicza, Bob Milacki

Combined WAR: 15.9

While the current rotation may be challenged to top that performance in ’94, they’ll have to go to a whole new level to match the staff from ’87. In that year Bret Saberhagen, Gubicza, Charlie Leibrandt, Danny Jackson and Bud Black combined for WAR of 23.5! For perspective, let’s look at the career year for each of the current starters:

James Shields (2007) 5.2 WAR

Ervin Santana (2008) 4.8 WAR

Jeremy Guthrie (2010) 4.3 WAR

Wade Davis (2012) 1.4 WAR

Luis Mendoza (2012) 1.4 WAR

That comes out to 17.1, and that’s the best year any of them have ever had. While it’s unlikely that any of the top three match their career year in 2013, I’d say it’s very possible that Davis and/or Mendoza improve upon their 2012 numbers. This will not be the greatest rotation in the history of the Kansas City Royals, but it’s very possibly the best in the past 20 years. If that happens you can expect to hear a lot more from me and my hyperbole.

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Pitching Showcase

Spring Training 2013 was not supposed to be an exciting one for the St. Louis Cardinals.  A team that had made very few offseason moves was primarily set for the upcoming season.  Then, an injury to a veteran starter opened up a door.

 

Cardinals prospect Michael Wacha

Cardinals prospect Michael Wacha

The injury to Chris Carpenter might have opened up a door but the depth within the organization has kicked it wide open.  The arms in camp are plentiful and it will result in someone finding themselves in Memphis waiting for their time to arrive.

Thursday was the showcase of that talent at a very real level.  The day started with all of the focus on the starting rotation and young hurlers Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller bidding to be the fifth starter for the club.  They both reached their pitch counts and there was more baseball to be played, so manager Mike Matheny opened the doors to the trophy case and gave the world a glimpse of the future in St. Louis.

The first arm behind Kelly and Miller was that of flame thrower Trevor Rosenthal.  Rosenthal recently was removed from the three horse race for the final rotation spot but has found himself strongly entrenched in the major league bullpen.  Matheny has been noted as saying that he can see using Rosenthal to help get closer Jason Motte some down time with full confidence.  The young man has wowed the crowds in Florida this Spring with pitches over 100 miles per hour and great control.  His breaking ball is sharp, his changeup is keeping guys off balance, and the heat is definitely there.

Once Rosenthal was done, however, there were two more innings left to play.  The surprise of the Spring has been the emergence of young Michael Wacha as another power arm that is close to ready for prime time.  Wacha would enter the game to pitch the final two innings and secure the win.  The young man proved his continued worth and helped showcase the future of the Cardinals with two solid innings of relief.

The showcase of talent led to some clarity after the game, however.  The Cardinals continued to trim their roster on Thursday with the official announcement coming Friday morning.  Wacha, as expected, was sent to minor league camp and placed on the Triple-A roster.  Joining him in Memphis will be reliever Eduardo Sanchez.

That adds yet another wrinkle to the competition in camp.

The question has remained the same: what happens to the starter that does not make the rotation?  Generally speaking, my opinion has stood that if Kelly is the starter, Miller will be in Memphis to start the year.  On the opposite side of the coin, if Miller was chosen to start, Kelly would most likely find himself in the St. Louis bullpen.  The challenge to all of this is the emergence of a solid Spring showing for Fernando Salas.  His four appearances this spring, which produced four innings, have been solid and have him laying claim to a bullpen spot this year.

As we enter the last few weeks of Spring Training, there are now three arms – Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Fernando Salas – for two spots.  One will be the fifth starter.  One will be in the bullpen.  One will be in Memphis.  The 2013 roster is shaping up with some interesting decisions.

The future beyond 2013 looks very, very bright.

 

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The Royals Send Luke Hochevar To The Bullpen

It’s been a bumpy and inconsistent ride for Luke Hochevar, the former 2006 No. 1 overall draft pick. Except for a few bullpen outings early in his career, Hochevar was a starter for the Royals since 2008. With the team’s upgrades to the starting rotation, Hochevar, Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza were in competition for the fifth starting spot. But after two spring starts, the Royals made the decision to move Hochevar to the bullpen.

Luke  Hochevar

It wasn’t like Hochevar made a case for being the fifth starter. In two spring starts, Hochevar pitched eight innings and gave up six earned runs, six walks, two home runs and eight strikeouts with a 6.75 ERA. It’s only two starts, but it’s clear Hochevar’s spring struggles influenced the Royals to move him to the bullpen.

Royals Manager Ned Yost put a positive spin on the move, saying it gives Hochevar a chance to help the Royals win every day instead of every five days. But the last few years, Hochevar hasn’t given the Royals many chances to win every five days as a starter.

The Royals see Hochevar as a late-inning setup man, joining Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow for closer Greg Holland. The team believes having Hochevar pitch one or two innings and getting acclimated to the bullpen during Spring Training will improve his consistency on the mound.

But will moving Hochevar to the bullpen make a difference? The frustrating thing about Hochevar’s meltdowns was they didn’t always happen after pitching a few innings. One start, he might melt down in the first inning. Another start, he might fall apart after three or four innings. Or in another start, he might pitch seven or eight masterful innings, getting the win. When Hochevar took the mound, you didn’t know which Hochevar would show up.

Hochevar has some advantages. He’s durable, and when he’s on, he’s almost unhittable. And having Hochevar face fewer batters and being “on call” to pitch every day might sharpen his mental focus and improve his consistency.

The team made the logical decision and moved Hochevar to the bullpen. The Royals weren’t going to release Hochevar and it’s unlikely he would go to AAA Omaha. And he doesn’t have much trade value, at least for now. The team has nothing to lose by doing this and it could be a move that resurrects his career. Or it could be Hochevar’s last gasp in a so far inconsistent, disappointing Major League career. For the good of the team and Hochevar, I hope this works out.

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To Start Or To Relieve: Wade Davis

James Shields was the “big name” in the Shields/Wade Davis trade, but the success or failure of the trade hinges on Davis. Shields is the Kansas City Royals’ ace, but he’s a free agent after the 2014 season. Whether he pitches well or not, it’s likely he’s gone after two years. However, Davis is under team control until 2016. The Royals believe Shields will improve the team now. As for Davis, the Royals believe he will develop into a two or three starter and be a part of the starting rotation the next few seasons.

wadedavis2013springtraining

This spring, the Royals plan to give Davis every chance to make the starting rotation as their 3-4-5 starter. From 2009-2011, Davis started 64 games for the Tampa Bay Rays. But last year, Davis stayed in the bullpen, appearing in 54 games. During Spring Training, the Rays gave Davis a shot as their fifth starter, but he lost out to Jeff Niemann. And when Niemann went down with a broken ankle, the Rays promoted Alex Cobb to the starting rotation, leaving Davis in the bullpen.

So is Davis a better starter, or a better reliever? Let’s see what the stats say:

Year ERA G GS IP ER WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2009 3.72 6 6 36.1 15 1.266 8.2 0.5 3.2 8.9 2.77
2010 4.07 29 29 168.0 76 1.351 8.8 1.3 3.3 6.1 1.82
2011 4.45 29 29 184.0 91 1.375 9.3 1.1 3.1 5.1 1.67
2012 2.43 54 0 70.1 19 1.095 6.1 0.6 3.7 11.1 3.00
4 Yrs 3.94 118 64 458.2 201 1.315 8.6 1.1 3.3 6.7 2.04
162 Game Avg. 3.94 44 24 171 75 1.315 8.6 1.1 3.3 6.7 2.04
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/20/2013.

Davis prefers a starting role, but his stats say he’s a better reliever. He had a much lower ERA, and over nine innings gave up fewer hits and struck out more batters. However, he did walk more batters over nine innings, which isn’t good if you’re a reliever. And with the Rays talented starting rotation last year, Davis stayed in the bullpen.

But how does Davis as a starter compare to the 2012 Royals starting rotation? Here’s the stats of the top five Royals starters:

Rk ERA G GS IP ER WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
1 Bruce Chen* 5.07 34 34 191.2 108 1.367 10.1 1.5 2.2 6.6 2.98
2 Luke Hochevar 5.73 32 32 185.1 118 1.419 9.8 1.3 3.0 7.0 2.36
3 Luis Mendoza 4.23 30 25 166.0 78 1.416 9.5 0.8 3.2 5.6 1.76
4 Jeremy Guthrie 3.16 14 14 91.0 32 1.132 8.3 0.9 1.9 5.5 2.95
5 Will Smith* 5.32 16 16 89.2 53 1.606 11.1 1.2 3.3 5.9 1.79
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/20/2013.

If you take Davis’ worst year, 2011, he had a better ERA than the Royals rotation, save Jeremy Guthrie and Luis Mendoza. The Royals rotation had more SO/9 than the 2011 Davis and except for Mendoza and Will Smith, the Royals rotation had a better BB/9 ratio than the 2011 Davis. If Davis was in the Royals starting rotation last year, he would likely be the number three starter behind Guthrie and Mendoza.

So what does this mean? Well, Davis is a good middle of the rotation starter, but is a better reliever. If Bruce Chen and Mendoza regress, Luke Hochevar pitches like Luke Hochevar and Davis pitches like he did in 2010, he’ll be in the starting rotation. But if Chen, Mendoza or Hochevar have a great Spring Training, Davis might end up in the bullpen.

But that’s not likely, despite what happens this spring. The Royals will give Davis every opportunity to make the starting rotation, just to show the Shields/Davis trade wasn’t a bust like some Royals fans and pundits think it is. If Shields and Davis are starters, the trade doesn’t look bad. The team got two quality starters to improve their rotation. But if Shields is a starter and Davis is a reliever, then the trade looks like the Royals got an ace for only two years and another bullpen arm in an already strong bullpen. Not bad, but not that good either.

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