Welcome to Part Three of what appears as though it may be a weekly feature – the Royals Mailbag! In case you missed Parts One and Two, click here and here. Although we do our best to keep you all up to date with any and all happenings involving our beloved Royals, there may still be questions that you have that we have not gotten to. Hopefully, these mailbags will be able to answer any questions you may have. If you do have any questions that you want us to feature in upcoming mailbags, feel free to leave them in the comments or post them to our Facebook page.
We start off with a couple of more questions from Gary Wilmes. “Who do you believe will have the 5th spot in the rotation?”
Chances are, whoever starts the season as the Royals fifth starter will not remain there through the entire season. As of this point, it is likely between Wade Davis, Luke Hochevar, the recently signed Brad Penny and Yordano Ventura for the fifth starter role. Unless Ventura comes out and puts together an absolutely insane performance in Spring Training, he is likely to start the season in Omaha, resurfacing in June when his arbitration clock is pushed back. As such, it likely comes down to Davis, Hochevar and Penny.
Penny was not overly effective in 2011 and 2012 before taking last season off, so he is quite the dark horse candidate. In reality, it seems as though the battle is between Davis and Hochevar. Neither have been overly dominant as a starter in their careers, but Davis has occasionally displayed flashes of competence in the role. Unless he falls apart during Spring Training, chances are that Wade Davis opens the season as the Royals fifth starter. However, he is not likely to finish the season in that role.
Gary also had one other question, this time about the lineup. “How do you feel about the batting lineup?”
The Royals lineup, at first glance, may not seem overly impressive. Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer are the only two players projected to hit over twenty home runs, and they are barely expected to eclipse that mark. Yet, what the Royals have is a lineup that may be reminiscent to their glory days in the late 1970’s through the mid 1980’s. The Royals should be able to get on base, keep pressure on the opposition with their speed and ability to put the ball in play and score runs.
It may not be the prototypical lineup with several power bats that has become so prevalent in this era of baseball, but the lineup should be improved over last season. If Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez can continue to progress, and Billy Butler gets close to what he was in 2012, the Royals offense should be fun to watch this year.
Our last question comes from Unclejesse40, who asked “What are your thoughts on moving Crow down to AAA and having him transition back to the rotation? His value in the bullpen is pretty low and so wouldn’t it make sense to just take a look at if he could.”
With the depth that the Royals have in the bullpen, it may make sense to see if Aaron Crow could end up becoming a viable starter. The problem with that is that Crow was predominantly a sinker/slider pitcher last season. That arsenal works well coming out of the bullpen, but as a starter, he would need to perfect a third pitch.
However, prior to the 2013 season, Crow did have a fastball that he used approximately 14% of the time. This past season, that usage decreased to 5.98%. It is difficult to understand why, as opponents only had a .167 batting average against the fastball in 2013, a year after they only hit .138 against the pitch.
Should Crow struggle during Spring Training and lose his spot in the bullpen, it may be worth it for the Royals to see if he can become a starter. The biggest key to that may be increasing his confidence in his fastball. If they are able to do that, then the Royals may have found another starter in Aaron Crow.
Thank you for the questions. If you have any questions, be sure to let us know and we will look to get them answered in an upcoming mailbag.