This Royals’ offense is exhausting. As you know, I love digging into statistics to look at trends and what may be on the horizon for individual players, as well as the team as a whole. But a man can only take so much. Going over the same offensive issues time and time again has worn me down a bit, so I decided I needed a minor distraction. So instead of focusing on something that only depresses me, I want to look at something happier, such as how the Royals will handle Yordano Ventura‘s injury. Ok, so I may have chosen the wrong distraction on which to focus, but let’s proceed anyway.
Yesterday afternoon, the Royals received some good news regarding Ventura. While some may have feared the worst with his elbow soreness, it appears he will only miss one start to help with the inflammation before he’s ready to return. Obviously things could change, but as of right now, this is probably the best possible scenario. I wouldn’t hate it if they decide to give him a bit more rest, just to be on the safe side, but Ventura said he’s not feeling any soreness, and a clean MRI is always a good thing.
That being said, there is still the question of who will start in Ventura’s place, when his spot in the rotation comes up on Saturday in Toronto. Ned Yost didn’t talk about the various options yesterday, but I’m guessing the team will have some plan in place before they head out on the road trip. Here is a look at the possible replacements.
Marimon has been in the Royals’ farm system for 8 years now, but he’s never gotten a ton of hype for anything other than his fantastic name. His stuff isn’t what one would call “electric,” but he has been able to get some very good results for the Storm Chasers this season. In 51 innings, he’s posted a K/9 of 7.8 and a BB/9 of 2.8, all while having an ERA of just 2.82 in the hitter-friendly environment of the Pacific Coast League.
Among the rest of the Omaha starters, Marimon has the best results overall, and I could see the Royals throwing their longtime farmhand a bone, especially since no one candidate appears to be a slam-dunk option. Plus, his last start came on Monday, so he could be ready on normal rest. Marimon is not on the 40-man roster, but a corresponding move would be easy to make, since Luke Hochevar could be shifted to the 60-day disabled list if needed.
The 24-year old righty, like Marimon, doesn’t wow anyone with his stuff, but he does possess great control and an ability to generate a lot of ground balls. In 40.1 Triple-A innings this season, Brooks has 5.4 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and an ERA of 3.12. He didn’t show much in his MLB debut earlier this season, allowing 7 hits to the 13 batters he faced in 2 innings, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Royals give him another shot.
The organization raved about what they saw from Brooks in the spring, and from most reports, his velocity is higher now than it was last season, so they may see a bit of upside beyond minor league depth. However, Brooks is scheduled to pitch today, meaning the Royals would need to make a decision right away if they want to go that route.
This would probably be an unlikely option, but Lamb has struck out over a batter per inning in Omaha this season. His velocity still isn’t topping 89 or 90 MPH, and he’s allowed 10 home runs in 51 innings, which has contributed to his 4.59 ERA. I don’t think the Royals would want to push the 23-year old too hard if he’s not mentally ready for the jump, but I suppose it is an option for them. Like I said, there is no slam-dunk choice here.
Also, homer-friendly Toronto may not be the best place for a seemingly homer-prone pitcher to make his major league debut. In fact, I think Edwin Encarnacion just hit three more home runs while reading the above paragraph.
This is probably the least desirable option, but I think it’s also a realistic option the Royals may choose. With no standout replacement starters, the Royals could call up an extra arm like Justin Marks or Spencer Patton, and essentially piece the Saturday game together in whatever way possible. Michael Mariot threw a few innings in relief of Ventura on Monday, so he could act as the “starter” if they keep him fresh until then.
Again, I think this would not be the best choice, but if the starters can eat enough innings over the next few days, the Royals may feel a rested bullpen would be good enough to get the job done against the Blue Jays.
So what’s the verdict? If I had to guess – which I don’t, because this is just a silly blog with no real-life implications, but I digress – I would say the Royals add Marimon to the roster for Saturday to give him the spot start. I don’t know how well he would perform facing a red-hot Blue Jays’ offense, but the rules of baseball require the Royals to have someone throw pitches, and Marimon might be the best option available.
The fact that Marimon might be the best option available is another depressing discussion for another depressing day. Needless to say, this team is in a rough stretch of baseball right now, and with the difficult schedule ahead, they’ll need Ventura’s replacement to be as close to Ventura’s level as possible. Whoever the Royals select doesn’t necessarily need to throw fire, but he does need to throw strikes and get outs, and he needs to do it frequently.