As the Royals current 25 man roster stands, manager Ned Yost does not have many options available on his bench. Based on the typical starting lineup, Yost would have Jarrod Dyson, Raul Ibanez, Christian Colon and Erik Kratz available as defensive replacements, pinch runners or in the event of injury. There just are not many options available, especially with the 13 man bullpen.
Perhaps that is why Yost has stated that starting pitchers James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie could get an appearance as pinch hitters should the occasion present itself. Yes, Yost could use pitchers as pinch hitters, even with position players available on the bench. Neither of the pitchers are Jason Vargas, who was a solid hitter in college and sports a career .262/.297/.311 batting line. Shields has hit at a .222/.255/.244 with only one career extra base hit – the double he had earlier this year. Guthrie hits like a pitcher, with a .094/.111/.132 batting line.
“If I get in a situation where I don’t want to burn a player, Shields can hit, Guthrie can bunt,” Yost said.
Pitchers pinch hitting? Where is Micah Owings when a team needs him? If only Owings could pitch as well as he hit during his major league career, he would be a perfect fit!
In a way, such a strategy could make sense. If Kratz is the last player available on the bench, Ned Yost may desire to have either Shields or Guthrie take a turn at the plate, just in case something was to happen to Salvador Perez. Dyson would be able to utilized as the pinch runner extraordinaire that he has been. If Yost has another move in mind in the future during the game, Shields or Guthrie could get that chance int he batter’s box.
As strange as it seems, such a move could make sense, depending on the situation. In a tie game when Yost wants to be certain of a bunt, the Guthrie could be of use. Shields has done a decent job with the bat in his five at bats this season, and his career OPS+ of 37 is actually better than the number posted by several players the Royals have had this season. If Pedro Ciriaco could get 47 at bats, then maybe Shields can see a plate appearance as a pinch hitter.
Should Ned Yost opt to make such a move, he would certainly leave himself open to quite a lot of second guessing, especially if the Royals were to lose the game. However, considering how often Yost is questioned about the moves he either does or does not make, this would not be anything new for him.
Ned Yost could actually use a pitcher as a pinch hitter. Considering the “production” from some of the players in kansas City this year, such a thought may actually be better than one would have expected.