Kansas City Royals Breakdown: The Rotation

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Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Yordano Ventura

Along with Danny Duffy, who we will look at next, Yordano Ventura was expected to truly help the Kansas City Royals overcome Shields’ departure. Ventura has certainly displayed the potential to be an ace, especially during Game Six of the World Series last year, as he shut down the Giants to fouce Game Seven. This season, however, has been an ongoing battle against cramps, beanballs, brawls and ineffectiveness, leading to a 5.36 ERA and a 1.388 WHiP.

Ventura has been roughly the same pitcher he was last year, firing the baseball harder, and with more consistency, than any starter in the game. However, while Ventura has not seem a dramatic increase on batting average against, opponents seem to be a lot more ready for his near triple digit heater. Last year, opponents pulled the ball 40.3% of the time against Ventura; this year, that number has increased to 50.8%. This corresponds with a decrease in balls hit the opposite way, as that rate has dropped from 29.0% last year to 18.0% this season.

Part of the problem with Ventura may be the overall lack of movement on his pitches. Yes, he has been able to fire the baseball at triple digits in the seventh and eighth inning, but his pitches do not have the same sort of movement that one would hope for. It is one thing to throw at 100 MPH with movement, but it is something else entirely when that pitch comes in on a virtually straight line.

Perhaps backing off in terms of velocity could help Ventura reestablish himself. If Ventura is getting more movement at 96 MPH than at 100 MPH, he may well be better off. Likewise, backing off from the constant high octane offerings would likely help preserve his arm down the line, making him potentially less likely to deal with an injury.

Yet, even for all of the struggles Ventura has had this season, it may simply be a blip on the radar. After all, his batting average against and line drive rates are fairly similar to last season. Ventura has even seen an increase in ground balls, as 52.5% of balls put in play against him have been grounders. This would appear to be backed up by Ventura’s xFIP, which indicates that his ERA should be at 4.06 this season, as opposed to the 5.36 it currently is.

Despite having only two quality starts this season, Yordano Ventura appears as though he could get back to being the pitcher the Kansas City Royals expected this season. Hopefully, that happens soon.

Next: Are you ready to get Duffed?

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