Kansas City Royals Rotation Needs to Deliver in 2015


There is something to be said for those pitchers who are constantly able to take the ball and go out there whenever their spot in the rotation comes up. Those rare pitchers who, almost regardless of the circumstances, can be counted on to provide seven innings of quality pitching almost every time through the rotation. The Kansas City Royals are fortunate enough to have two of those starters in Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie.

Having these veteran pitchers who, barring injury, are capable of going out there and pitching over 200 innings each season. Vargas has hit that mark twice since 2010, and has averaged 30 starts and 190 innings per season over the previous five years. If not for injuries, he would have likely gone over 200 innings in each of the past two seasons.

Guthrie, for his part, has pitched under 200 innings only once since 2009. In that 2012 season when Dayton Moore stole Guthrie for the corpse of Jonathan Sanchez, Guthrie still pitched 181.2 innings. Over the past six seasons, Guthrie has averaged 32 starts and 202 innings of work.

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Having these two pitchers in the rotation would certainly take some of the burden off of Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy. However, it is strange that both Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie are at the back end of the rotation, following Edinson Volquez. While Volquez is a ten year veteran, and did pitch eight excellent innings yesterday, he has pitched over 180 innings only three times in his career, never reaching the 200 inning threshold. Ventura and Duffy, meanwhile have career highs of 183 and 149.1 innings respectively.

While the Royals may be expecting an increase in innings from each of these pitchers, that is not even close to a given. Ventura already has given the Royals quite the injury scare, and Duffy only lasted five innings in his initial outing. Yes, it is only two games into the season, but it may make more sense to have Vargas slotted behind Duffy, just to give the Royals bullpen the potential for a bit more rest.

The Kansas City Royals bullpen is certainly deeper than it was at the beginning of last season, as Jason Frasor will be in the fold all year and Luke Hochevar will eventually be back. However, at least a portion of the effectiveness of the bullpen was due to the Royals ability to give them enough rest and not have to send them out each day.

Having two wild cards in Ventura and Duffy atop the rotation, regardless of how high their ceiling might be, could lead to more wear and tear on the bullpen as the year rolls on. Yes, they are easily the two most talented starters on the staff, but the Royals may be better served by having the dependable Jason Vargas behind them to virtually ensure that the bullpen can get close to a full night off.

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