Barely five days ago, Luke Hochevar got demoted to the bullpen. Whether he and his “bloated for a reliever” contract stick with the Royals this season has become less irrelevant to me at this point because at the very least, he’s not in the rotation. I know that if he ends up sticking with the Royals and comes out of the pen at more than 4 million dollars this year, it’s going to be a huge waste of money, but you take the positives when you get ‘em.
That being said, at the time of the demotion, there were essentially four candidates elligible for the 5th spot in the rotation. Bruce Chen, Luis Mendoza, Will Smith, and Yordano Ventura are all getting a good look. Granted, most individuals think it would be a long shot for Ventura to jump the other three to get the spot. I think the same goes for Will Smith, though he’s looked good in limited time this spring. That means that the two frontrunners for the position were and are Chen and Mendoza.
And Chen may have very well played himself out of those talks on Saturday.
After a debacle of a 1st inning where Bruce gave up 3 home runs, including one to ex-Royal David Dejesus, Chen ended up throwing 92 pitches, giving up 7 runs and 5 home runs. In fact, Chen has given up 7 home runs and 12 earned runs in 13.2 innings.
Now the caveat of spring training stats is exactly that….it’s spring training. But it’s not like Chen has a proven track record to look at over the last few season to give us assurance.
So why should he get the 5-spot instead of Luis Mendoza? Mendoza had a decent second half last year and (knock on wood) couldn’t be any worse than Chen.
It speaks to the difference in this year that we can have a discussion over whether Chen or Mendoza should be our 5th starter. In all honesty, I’m not TOO concerned about who’s taking the bump in that spot. (As long as it won’t be Hochevar)
So what do you think? Has Chen played his way out of a rotation spot? Or do you think his most recent outing won’t matter?