Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Luke Hochevar (44) throws a pitch at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Searching for Answers

As we are nearing opening day, a few things should start to clear up.  There are some pieces to the puzzle the Royals still have to figure out, and it’s becoming a guessing game for their fans to try and solve as well.  One thing that is certain, is Yuniesky Betancourt and Chris Getz will be platooning at second base to start the season.  This makes me question so many things, and the move has left a sour taste in the mouths of Royals diehards on Twitter .  In no way can this work in the Royals favor.  But I digress, there’s still many other questions to answer.  Who will be the lefty out of the bullpen?  Who will be the number four and five to fill out the rotation?  Also, who will be the next Royals closer in the wake of Joakim Soria needing his second Tommy John surgery?

Jose Mijares, Tim Collins, Everett Teaford, and Tommy Hottovy are all in the race to be the left-handed reliever out of the pen.  Three out of four of these pitchers have spotless ERAs and Collins has still managed a miniscule 1.08 ERA, at this time.  I think Mijares is the lead dog of the pack simply because he was brought in to be the go-to lefty.  Although, the other three guys are making their cases to start the year on the opening day roster as well.  It does seem possible to me, that two of these four could make the team but I would definitely say no more than that.

I don’t know about all of you, but I have been less than impressed by what I’ve seen out of the starters so far this spring.  I want to clarify that I’m aware the Royals aren’t anywhere near the Phillies or Angels in terms of starting pitching, but I was hoping they would be above adequate this spring.  Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza are the only two guys who have pitched extremely well and there is no guarantee Mendoza even makes the team as a starter.  Bruce Chen, Jonathan Sanchez, Danny Duffy, and Felipe Paulino have all underperformed this spring and aren’t doing much to claim their spots in the rotation.  I know not much weight should be put into spring training stats, but the fact that Chen has given up 27 hits in 12 innings is very disheartening.  It would be nice if a few of these guys pitched like they wanted the job.  That being said, Paulino is pitching his way out and Mendoza is pitching his way into the rotation.  I believe Duffy will start out in the rotation and am looking for Sanchez and Chen to bounce back after very rough springs.  I do not think there is room for Paulino, Duffy, or Mendoza out of the bullpen, if that question comes up, as there is an abundance of arms already out there now.

The starting pitching has been a question mark all off season, but one thing we thought was certain, was the closer’s role.  With the news that Joakim Soria will undergo his second Tommy John surgery, the question remains, who will fill his shoes?  I say  Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, and Jonathan Broxton, in that order.  Holland has the dominating stuff and one of the best sliders in the game, so I feel extremely confident with him in the 9th.  Crow was bestowed upon as the closer for a short amount of time last season and Broxton is coming off some elbow issues but is still capable of returning to his former All-Star self.  I would be okay with any of these relievers, but I’m personally pulling for Holland.

We only have a few more weeks, if not sooner, before we get some of the answers to these questions.  Whatever happens though, I’m sure it will make for some great conversations and playful banter.  Either way, Opening Day is less than two weeks away!

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Tags: Aaron Crow AL Central Baseball Bruce Chen Chris Getz Danny Duffy Everett Teaford Joakim Soria Jose Mijares Kansas City Royals KC KC Royals Luis Mendoza Luke Hochevar MLB Royals Tim Collins Yuniesky Betancourt

  • eric.akers

    I have a slightly different order or preference for the closers role: Broxton, Holland, then Crow. The reasons are: Broxton as the veteran could easily handle the role, that would give us flexibility of Holland being able to come in and pitch at any time (not just the 9th in save situations), and we could use Crow in extended roles say for the time our starter goes 3 innings and this allows us to easily remove Crow from the pen to go back into the rotation without drastic changes in roles in the pen.  Also, it might give Broxton more value come trade deadline.

  • jim fetterolf

    Good post, Jordan, but I wouldn’t bet on a Yuni platoon at 2nd. I think Getzie plays most of the time and Yuni is mainly a back-up. Gets down to all those little things that Getz does well, including hitting lefties  better than Yuni did last year.
    In the bullpen, Broxton will probably be the closer if his arm stays strong his next couple of appearances. Coming back from surgery it will be easier on him to warm up only once a night than get dry-humped like a fireman does, a role that Holland is quite good at. Crow looks confused since they moved the furniture on him, sent him back to the ‘pen. I’ld put him in Omaha as a starter and use Hererra.
    For the starters, the only battle left is between Chen and Paulino and I might put the Master in the bp as long relief/spot starter, as he has experience in that role, has a good attitude, and will probably volunteer for it if he doesn’t think he’s pitching well enough to start. Paulino didn’t do well in previous experiments in the ‘pen and seems a guy who needs the routine to perform. If he reverts to old Paulino, he gets DFA’ed with plenty of candidates to replace him. Don’t see the Royals going through Kyle Davies v2.0 this year, too much depth.

  • jordan223b

    Thank you very much! Glad you appreciated the post.  I’m starting to agree about Broxton being the closer.  I’m just a big fan of Greg Holland and I know he is capable of shutting the door in the 9th.  I hope we never have to go through Kyle Kavies v2.0 again.  There is definitely no room in the pen, you’re right, way too much depth there.

  • jordan223b

     @eric.akers It definitely seems like Broxton will be given the closers role as we near opening day.  I’m certainly okay with that, my only concern is how his arm is going to do after bouncing back from some elbow issues last year.  If he is healthy, then he will be excellent for us!