Royals Spring Training Notes: Edinson Volquez Bounces Back

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Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Just as everyone expected, a game pitched by Edwin Jackson and Edinson Volquez was a pitchers’ duel until Wade Davis and Greg Holland allowed things to get out of hand. Yes, I did type that correctly. That actually happened. I saw it with my own two eyeballs.

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The Kansas City Royals’ newest starter had his best start of the spring against the Cubs yesterday, striking out 8 batters in 5 innings of work. Even more importantly, Volquez only walked 1. He allowed a first-inning dinger to Miguel Montero on a hanging curveball, but the rest of the day, Volquez had all of his pitches working well.

He generated 13 whiffs on the day, including 4 with his changeup and 4 with his fastball. Volquez’s secondary stuff had plenty of movement, with his changeup looking the best. It was running well away from lefites and diving down toward the back foot of right-handed hitters. Cubs hitters were not able to get a ton of great swings, outside of the home run and a few other singles.

Volquez also really ramped up his velocity yesterday, topping out north of 98 MPH with his sinker. He averaged 95.7 MPH, which is higher than he had in any game last season. I think it might be safe to say Volquez has built up his arm strength to where he wants it.

One negative I noticed from him was his pickoff move. I noted a while ago that Volquez has only picked off 1 runner in his career, and after seeing the move in action, it’s not tough to see why. He may have been saving a better move for the regular season, but there just wasn’t much quickness to his turn and he didn’t put much on the throw to first. As I said, maybe he has a better move, but that wasn’t the most encouraging thing to see.

What was encouraging was seeing Volquez flash his electric stuff, while maintaining his command. He also struck out superstar-in-waiting Kris Bryant, which was impressive, and Javier Baez, which was slightly less impressive. It was a fun performance to see, even if the Royals didn’t come out on top.

I think this game was on television as well, but again, I wanted to share some notes I had from yesterday.

– Holland had a pretty awful appearance, giving up 4 hits and 4 runs in two-thirds of an inning of work. His command was all over the place, which kept him from taking control of each plate appearance. I’m not even remotely concerned about it, but it happened.

– Davis also didn’t look particularly sharp, allowing a home run in his inning. That homer just barely made it to the grass, as did the other two surrendered on the day. It was a hot Arizona afternoon. Those balls are flyouts in almost every ballpark next week.

– Unfortunately, the Royals didn’t take advantage of the homer-friendly environment, because they were pounding the ball into the ground for much of the day. They grounded out 14 times, and they reached on error on a couple of ground balls.

Brett Eibner was one of the few Royals who did put the ball in the air. He came into the game late and had another good swing on a ball to deep right field, though it was caught at the wall. Hopefully his strong spring will carry over into the regular season.

Alex Gordon went hitless, running his spring line down to .125/.125/.125. I won’t say I’m worried, but I was hoping to see him make some better contact before Opening Day. Sure enough, he collected three hits today, including a home run. That was nice.

Next: Spring Training Almost Over, We Ready for 2015

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