June 12, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Luis Mendoza (39) waves to the crowd after being relieved in the seventh inning of the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Kauffman Stadium. Mendoza threw a no hitter through six innings. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A Mendoza Miracle

I begged. I pleaded. I implored Ned Yost not to waste a rotation spot on Luis Mendoza. I argued his strikeout and walk rates were a recipe for failure and that he’d be a disaster as a starting pitcher. This was, of course, a year ago and my rock solid argument fell on deaf ears as Mendoza opened the 2012 season in the rotation.

My oh my, what a difference a year makes. I’m begging and pleading again, but this time, I want Mendoza in the rotation.

I wasn’t entirely wrong about him last year, the predictable did happen; he walked too many, struck out too few and was just all around horrible. He was demoted to the bullpen in May but received a second chance when Felipe Paulino went down in early June. He responded to his second chance by being a pitcher he’d never been in his career before. Look at the difference in his numbers between his first 10 appearances and his last 20, which were all starts.

ERA G GS IP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
4/9 – 6/6 5.36 10 5 43.2 5.1 3.9 0.76
6/12 – 10/3 3.83 20 20 122.1 2.5 6.2 2.50

That’s a fairly impressive run for a guy who struck out just 4.8 hitters every 9 innings in the minors (1111 IP). He finished the season with a 97 ERA+, a mark Luke Hochevar has never come close to accomplishing. Based on that 20 start stretch I think Mendoza has earned another look in the rotation. I don’t think it will happen though. Yost has already made comments that Mendoza would be a good fit at long relief, and I suspect Hochevar will get the fifth spot, even without actually earning it. Regardless of how I viewed Mendoza last year he did have a solid spring. This year I don’t think it will matter, especially now that he’s off on a WBC quest for Mexican glory.

I can’t imagine Hochevar suddenly getting it this year so I think at some point Mendoza will get a shot. If Yost needs a couple more months to completely rid the inconsistent right-hander from his system then I suppose I can live with that. I just won’t like it.


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