The Royals’ Starting Evolution


Entering the season, everyone knew that the Royals’ starting rotation was probably going to be a weak point. There were a lot of unknowns as we started out. There was* hope for Luke Hochevar to finally put things together. Jonathan Sanchez was a questionable pitcher who had shown flashes of having potential. Felipe Paulino was looking to build on a season that was actually somewhat decent. Kyle Davies was NOT going to be in the starting rotation, which was a victory in and of itself. Luis Mendoza had a head-scratchingly good year in the minors and appeared to be a contender for a starting job. Danny Duffy showed flashes as a rookie and he looked to have a strong sophomore season. (The phrase “showed flashes” may be one of the most overused cliches in sports.  I’m all about cliches.)

*I’m not sure that you can use the word “is” in this sentence anymore.

Fast-forward several months and things look significantly different. We were spoiled in the fact that we hardly saw a serious injury during last season and it seems we are making up for that this season. Paulino looked awful in spring training and was put on the D.L. before the season even started. Duffy looked as good as I’d hoped he would be, but is now gone for the rest of the year and part of next. All the fears about Sanchez’s lack of control seemed and seem founded. He has more walks (22) than strikeouts (18) and has averaged just over 4 innings per start this season. Hochevar has shown no consistency in a season where he really needs to step up.

There are some positives despite all of this. Felipe Paulino has looked strong coming off the D.L. and Bruce Chen has been fairly consistent as well. The key going forward lies in several pitchers who all still appear to be question marks to me.

I’ve already talked a little bit about Jonathan Sanchez’s struggles but it’s worth saying again that both he and Luis Mendoza need to average more than 5 innings per start. Neither of them are doing it as of yet and it’s wearing our bullpen out. Mendoza is an enigma to me. I was all for giving him a shot as a starter at the beginning of the season, but so far he hasn’t exactly proven me right. I want to see what he does with his next couple of starts.

There are a couple of other pitchers I’d like to get a longer look at as well. Adcock has looked pretty decent in his appearances this year. I’d like to see him make some starts, especially if Mendoza falters. Everett Teaford hasn’t been especially overwhelming as a whole, but he’s another guy I’d like to see stretched out a little bit. It may or may not be a good idea and I understand not wanting to mess with a guy’s confidence, but if Mendoza and Sanchez don’t step up, why not give some other guys a chance?

An interesting player to watch will be Jake Odorizzi, naturally. The recent call-up to AAA is exciting, but I don’t think there is or should be any rush to get him up to the big leagues. However, if he just dominates, he could be someone who pushes his way into starting rotation talks.

I don’t think it’s uncommon, but I find it interesting how drastically a different a rotation can look after two months, let alone at the end of the season.

Let’s hope some of these starters can get things figured out or some of the long-relief guys can step into a starting role. I don’t care which.

I’m not picky.