By Jeff Parker
Improvement in 2013 hinges on a much improved rotation. Dayton Moore saw the team’s major weakness and set about it fixing it. Now maybe he didn’t accomplish this in the manner some of us would have liked but he did improve the starting pitching corps. You have to admit, Luke Hochevar as a possible #4 or #5 is certainly a more tolerable option than watching him front the rotation.
August 21, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Luke Hochevar (44) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
For the Royals to compete, the rotation must go deeper into games. Kansas City could potentially see five starters pitch 180+ innings this season for the first time in team history. Six of the rotation’s candidates have accomplished this at least once in the last couple of years. Eating innings and eating innings effectively are of course two different things, but with Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino set to return at some point, I don’t think we’ll see a situation where a guy makes 30 starts with an ERA+ in the 70’s or low 80’s. Well, unless it’s James Shields or Jeremy Guthrie, I think those two make all their starts no matter what (barring injury of course).
Eight times in Royals history they’ve had four starters go 180+ and in those seasons they finished above .500 six times, made the playoffs three times and went to the World Series twice. I’m not attributing those team’s successes solely to starting pitching but they were obviously key factors (and in 1985’s case, more than key).
|1||1988||84-77||Kansas City Royals||4||Bannister / Gubicza / Leibrandt / Saberhagen|
|2||1987||83-79||Kansas City Royals||4||Gubicza / Jackson / Leibrandt / Saberhagen|
|3||1986||76-86||Kansas City Royals||4||Gubicza / Jackson / Leibrandt / Leonard|
|4||1985||91-71||Kansas City Royals||4||Black/ Jackson / Leibrandt / Saberhagen|
|5||1980||97-65||Kansas City Royals||4||Gale/ Gura/ Leonard / Splittorff|
|6||1979||85-77||Kansas City Royals||4||Gale / Gura / Leonard / Splittorff|
|7||1978||92-70||Kansas City Royals||4||Gale / Gura / Leonard / Splittorff|
|8||1969||69-93||Kansas City Royals||4||Bunker/ Butler / Drago/ Nelson|
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I still believe a playoff run is more likely to occur in 2014 than next season but I am eager to see what 2013 brings.