Apr 24, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Bruce Chen (52) throws in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Time for the Royals to Pull the Plug on Bruce Chen


Apr 24, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Bruce Chen (52) reacts while be taken from the game in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

When Bruce Chen was resigned by the Kansas City Royals, it was a move that looked good in a vacuum. Chen had thrived last season as a long reliever before stepping into the rotation, providing the Royals with a 3.27 ERA over 121 innings. By bringing in Chen, it would have appeared that the Royals had provided themselves a solid security blanket in the event that either Yordano Ventura or Danny Duffy faltered this year.

Instead, Chen was promised a start in the rotation. While he had an excellent first outing on April 5th, his last three starts have been disastrous. In the 13 innings that Chen has pitched in those starts, he has allowed 15 runs and 19 baserunners. That comes out to a 10.38 ERA and a 1.462 WHiP. While that WHiP is, at least similar to his career mark, Chen just has not been fooling anyone.

Last season, the Royals were essentially eliminated from the playoffs by the dastardly duo of Wade Davis and Luis Mendoza being in the rotation. By the same token, Bruce Chen was one of the saviors of the rotation last year, stepping in when the ineffective Mendoza was finally banished to the bullpen. In fact, Chen was a big part of why the Royals were able to get back into playoff contention at the end of the season.

While it is early in the season, the Royals cannot afford to have an ineffective Chen in the rotation. The Royals margin for error this year is miniscule, especially given their playoff aspirations. Having a pitcher who, every fifth day, is not giving the Royals a legitimate chance to win a game is a major challenge to those chances. Now, the Royals need someone to step in and rid them of Chen.

That may end up happening soon. Danny Duffy has been stellar since returning to Kansas City, but he is seemingly locked into the bullpen as the only left handed reliever that the Royals have. However, both Tim Collins and Francisley Bueno may be returning in the near future. Both pitched in a simulated game, and Collins is expected to make at least two appearances with the Omaha Storm Chasers before being called up. Once Collins returns, the Royals would have that lefty in the bullpen, allowing Duffy to potentially return to the starting rotation.

Bruce Chen has been a solid member of the Royals for much of his tenure in Kansas City, but he should not be judged on his past. Right now, keeping Chen and his 7.45 ERA in the rotation is hurting the Royals chances. What the Royals may be looking at is finding a way to replace Chen and getting him back into that long relief role he was in last season.

The Royals cannot afford to have Bruce Chen getting lit up every fifth day. It is time to pull the plug.

Tags: Bruce Chen Kansas City Royals

  • jimfetterolf

    A couple of points, first that Ventura wouldn’t have saved the Royals yesterday, second that three of the hits in the big inning were seeing eye, including one double. I still think Bruce is hurting and still think he should be shut down for a couple of weeks but not going to DFA him like we did Escobar a few weeks back.

    As for Duffy, his results are nice but he’s running over 20 pitches per inning, poor pitch efficiency which should keep him out of the rotation until he gets on top of it. If Bruce gets DLed I might think about Sugar Ray coming up, he’s looking good, low walks, high Ks.

    • unclejesse40

      I don’t get to watch nearly as many games as I want to but watching the highlights of Duffy so far, what you notice is that a lot of his counts are 2-2, 3-2 counts and then he strikes the guy out. The guy has got to go after batters and trust his stuff more. I think more time in the pen is what he needs. I think one of these days he is going to figure it out and be a decent rotation guy, but not right now.

      Would be kind of nice to have Will Smith right about now. He is looking good in a Brewers uniform, still hasn’t given up a run yet. And sometimes I wonder if given the chance would Dyson be able to do what Aoki is doing in RF and at the plate? I know you would have said to keep Lough and I tend to agree now that the Royals have shown no desire to play Valencia. And I am not really sure of the role that Maxwell has given that his defense is pretty poor and our rotation needs a top notice D.

      • jimfetterolf

        If the job was easy they wouldn’t pay GMs the big bucks :)

      • Tyler_KC_Fan

        Reason why Dyson was never going to work in RF is because his defense is below average. He’s played in about 10 games now and he’s made some pretty big errors and bad moves to the ball. Aoki is a solid RF and a great lead off hitter. Dyson may be hitting now, but if he was a quality player on offense, we wouldn’t have to worry about finding a RF or a lead off hitter because we would just move Dyson or use him. His streak he’s in now probably won’t last.

    • Hunter Samuels

      Duffy has averaged 17 pitches per inning so far (142 pitches, 8.1 IP). It may not seem like much of a difference, but 17 pitches per inning is just over 100 in 6 innings, instead of 100 in 5. I’d like to see him mix in more changeups than he’s used, but the pitch count doesn’t worry me too much, particularly considering the guy he’d be replacing hasn’t gone more than 5 innings in his last 3 starts, and is averaging closer to 19 pitches per inning.

      • jimfetterolf

        Duffy averaged over 20 in his first and last appearances. But good catch, those were the two that stuck with me. And that’s in relief where you don’t have to set batters up for later and use a smaller variety of pitches. But we’ll see.

        • Tyler_KC_Fan

          I find it hard to believe that anyone in the minors could do better then Duffy as a starter. I really hope we aren’t going to let Chen hang out till June. We talked about how if we switched Mendoza and Davis sooner things could have been different. Why is this situation with Chen and Duffy any different then that? Make the switch sooner rather than later and things could change quickly.

          • jimfetterolf

            Duffy is a bit high strung but seems to have found himself in the ‘pen for the moment, unlike spring training. Had Duffy pitched last night the Royals still would have lost, so the Chen thing is probably being blown out of proportion, but it’s a widespread meme, like Escobar was a few weeks ago, so probably originates with talk radio.

            As for Mendoza and Davis, game logs from last year are interesting. Davis didn’t kill the team, like with Santana Royals were a game under .500 in his starts as I recall. But like last year, not a slam dunk replacement pushing the incumbent aside. If Chen is DL’ed I might look at Marimon and leave Duffy in the ‘pen to build on his eight innings of success.

          • Tyler_KC_Fan

            The amount of absurd comment you’ve made about this is at an all time high. Claiming Duffy would have given up 5 runs in one inning last night, that Mendoza and Davis didn’t really hurt the team that much, that bring a pitcher who either just got to Omaha or who has never been mentioned by the team as MLB ready just to keep Duffy in the bullpen, and to DL Chen……seriously?

            1. No.
            2. Mendoza and Davis killed any chances we had early on because they gave up nearly 4 runs every outing. If Yost wasn’t so loyal and actually did what was best we could have had a better chance.
            3. Anyone we have in the minors pitching right now isn’t going to be better than Duffy. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you think we do (other than Zimmer who won’t come up any time soon) you’re absolutely crazy.
            4. Chen isn’t the same pitcher he was last year. Duffy did better last year and he’s done better so far this year. If Yost swallows his pride and makes the smart move, we win more. You saying Duffy would have given up 5 or we still would have lost last night if Duffy was pitching is beyond absurd. Base what you want off ST, but with no pressure/competition going on for a spot he is in a better mind set. He has his command coming fast. He isn’t pitching anymore per inning then Chen is right now. Be logical.
            5. No way anyone from the minors is put in for Chen so forget that thought. Chen moves to the bullpen. Duffy moves to the 5-spot. We win more. You don’t believe me, look at the 5 games Duffy pitched last year. We won all 5 of those games because Duffy allowed 1-2 runs an outing. Not the 4-6 Chen is.

            Be smart about this. Reaching for answers is absurd. It’s right in front of you, just make the moves.

          • jimfetterolf

            Opinions vary. If Duffy gave up 2 we would have lost last night, the offense is the killer for this team. I’ll stick with my opinions, you stick with yours, and I imagine Ned Yost will stick with his, as he is actually there and sees the kids on a daily basis and has much better info available than we or or various websites do. My opinion will continue to be that Chen is hurt and Duffy isn’t ready for the rotation.

          • moretrouble

            Yeah, I think Chen’s hurt. Chen was throwing 83-84 the other day and he usually throws 87-89.

          • Tyler_KC_Fan

            I don’t doubt he’s hurt, but bringing someone from the minors who has zero big league experience is ridiculous. I have more faith in Duffy then Chen.

          • jimfetterolf

            Opinions can vary. I accept that Duffy is in relief as an effort to get him calmed down and repeat his delivery while sharpening his efficiency. Eight innings may not be enough to accomplish that and dumping him back in the rotation could do more long and short term harm than good. The alternative is Wade Davis, so at the moment I’ld prefer Marimon for a couple of weeks over Duffy or Davis. If this was the ASB and Duffy had fifteen relief appearances and looked ready I would think him the best.

          • Tyler_KC_Fan

            Davis can’t even go an inning without getting into trouble or giving up a run, while proving last year he wasn’t that great of a starter. If you can find me something that says the Royals are interested in using Sugar Ray Marimon over Danny Duffy as a starter in this year rotation, I will give it more thought. But looking around the Royals haven’t said a word about Sugar Ray.

            I give Chen 2 more starts. If he blows up two more times he has to go. Keeping Davis and Mendoza in the rotation till the ASB cost the Royals at least 4-5 wins. If Chen is still hurt, pitching extensive innings isn’t going to help him heal. There isn’t a secret to this. We all know Yost is a very loyal manager. Thats why the players love playing with him. But he needs to make a move while the year is still manageable and in reach, that way we don’t try and scramble at the end of the year. If Duffy flops, so be it. But the way he’s been pitching he may be better than ever.

            Shields, Vargas, Ventura, Guthrie and Chen is NOT a playoff rotation. No matter what you say. Shields, Vargas, Ventura, Guthrie and Duffy is, however.

          • jimfetterolf

            Royals were 8-10 for both Davis and Santana starts before the ASB.

            As for Marimon, had you ever heard of him? Just curious. Reminds me of last year when everyone was whining about giving up our top pitching prospect in Odorizzi. Yordano who?

            As for Chen, I shut him down now and DL him. He won’t admit to being hurt, but results are pretty obvious. As for “has to go”, where? Going to DFA him? ‘pen. Trade him and Crow for a power bat for the middle of the order :)?

          • jimfetterolf

            Chen pulled a glute a couple of weeks back and hasn’t been the same since. If you ever meet any pitchers, ask them what that does to their delivery.

          • moretrouble

            Have I met any pitchers? You’re a funny guy.

          • jimfetterolf

            Then tell us how a funky glute affects mechanics directly and through adjustments to mechanics to compensate for it. You mentioned velo but command is a much more likely casualty.

          • moretrouble

            “If I ever meet any pitchers” is the way you phrased your comment to me, insinuating that I’ve never met any. That’s a presumption you are not in a position to make.

          • jimfetterolf

            You post like you have no knowledge of baseball, so I’ll stick with my presumptions.

          • moretrouble

            Why don’t you just stop the insults. You seem to be arguing with another poster on this article … it’s not helpful, in my opinion. Everyone saw that over at the Star and we should make this board a pleasant place, where posters can post opinions without getting harassed.

  • unclejesse40

    By the way Ervin Santana so far is looking like he is worth every penny the Braves paid him. Dang he would really have been nice to have in this rotation. Shields, Vargas, Santana, Guthrie, Ventura. I know its a lot of righties but who cares.

  • moretrouble

    Good post, David. Chen may be hurt right now, but even when healthy, he really doesn’t belong in a rotation any longer.

  • Ed Connealy

    Chen is shaky once he’s been through the lineup once, and real risky after two turns through. Duffy throws too many pitches. What if Duffy went to the rotation and Yost tried to make sure Chen was rested/ available for 3-4 innings on Duffy’s starts? High side..Duffy develops into a real rotation guy with better stuff. Low side, Duffy struggles early in games, you get Chen in for him. If that trend was to continue, you put Chen back into the rotation. The bottom line is that Chen and his results are not going to be good enough or this team to make the playoffs. They don’t score enough runs. Duffy’s high side is a gamble this team, with no power hitter or power hitter options is forced to take.