With Tony Pena Jr. gone I have felt like a ship without a rudder for the last day or so. Who could possibly fill the role as the Kings of Kauffman least favorite Royals player (KoKLFRP)? Today it became official. Gil Meche was placed on the DL with a lower back injury and he was replaced on the roster by good old Sidney Ponson. Now my problem is solved.
Meche was placed on the DL retroactive to June 12th, but unless they are planning on trying to trade him before the deadline, I hope the Royals give him more than the standard 15 days. He has been dealing with the back problem since spring training, and since his infamous 132-pitch complete game he has also been dealing with a dead arm. Trey Hillman has done him absolutely no favors allowing him to throw 121, 114, and 87 pitches in his last 3 starts. The 87-pitch outing is just as alarming as the other two since Meche failed to complete 4 innings in that last start.
I’m not a huge pitch count guy since each and every pitcher is different with varying tolerances, mechanics, and ability, but there is absolutely no doubt that the 132 pitch outing on June 16th took its toll on Meche’s back, arm, and season. In his 5 starts since, he has thrown 23.2 innings with an 8.75 ERA, 2.07 WHIP, 1.11 K/BB while also allowing 9 home runs. Prior to his June 16th start, Meche had a 3.70 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 2.03 K/BB while allowing only 2 home runs. Despite the velocity being there at the beginning of his starts, his pitches have been lacking their typical movement and his control has been absent. The hitters are always the first to tell a pitcher when something is wrong, and the hitters were speaking volumes on all the measures. ERA, WHIP and HR allowed were all way up, while his K/BB had dropped significantly.
If and when Meche returns to the Royals rotation this season, I hope that Trey Hillman adjusts his usage of him. Based on previous injury related events this season, I am terrified that while Meche is on the DL with the back injury the medical staff will find something wrong with his arm. There is far more wrong with Gil Meche right now than just a back problem. His arm is toast and I don’t know if 15 days of rest on the DL is going to be enough.
Speaking of the 15 day DL, as predicted, Kyle Farnsworth will not be coming off the DL anytime soon. According to Kyle, he might not be back until late August. Trey Hillman’s response;
“That’s the worst case scenario – on the safe side, hopefully it will be sooner”
I’d like to believe Trey on this one, but he doesn’t have a good track record on these things so I’m going to believe Kyle. Well actually Kyle and common sense, since it seems to me that a torn groin muscle would take more than 2 weeks to heal. Throw in the fact that that we are talking about the groin muscle of a ML pitcher and late August seems like a safe bet.
The pitcher that we know is coming off the DL is RHP-Sidney Ponson. He is officially inserted as KoK’s least favorite Royal with the departure of TPJ and is far from a valuable ML pitcher. That said, Sidney Ponson, such as he is, might fare better with the Royals than an injured Gil Meche has. Sir Sidney on the season has pitched 43.1 IP with a 7.27 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, and a 1.41 K/BB so he is far from a savior or even a stopgap. If his presence allows the Royals to be patient with Gil Meche during what is a competitively lost season, then perhaps he has some value to the team after all. If he can also protect the future career of Kyle Davies by allowing him to stay in Triple-A, then maybe I need to find a new KoKLFRP nominee.