Kansas City Royals Breakdown: The Rotation

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Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Guthrie

Jeremy Guthrie has been quite the interesting pitcher since coming over to the Kansas City Royals. He has had, by far, the best years of his career in Kansas City, proving himself as a reliable back of the rotation innings eater. Yet, every season, there seems to be a series of starts where Guthrie looks as though his place in the rotation may be in jeopardy.

However, every time, Guthrie comes back, proving himself to be the Pitcher the Royals Cannot Kill. This season has been no exception, as Guthrie started the year with a 6.52 ERA and a 1.586 WHiP in his first five starts. In his last two outings, Guthrie has looked like a completely different pitcher, giving up four runs on fourteen hits and a walk over 12.1 innings of work. Those last two outings are closer to what we have come to expect from Guthrie.

Looking over Guthrie’s peripheral statistics, he has performed at fairly close to his norm. While he has struck out fewer batters per nine than he did last year, Guthrie is primarily a pitcher who looks to induce weaker contact, making that dropoff, at least in theory, a bit less alarming. In fact, aside from one area, Guthrie has been essentially the same pitcher he always has been.

That one difference is with his line drive rate. During his career, Jeremy Guthrie has given up line drives at a 19.8% rate. This season, opponents are hitting a line drive on 29.5% of all balls put in play against him. Perhaps this is a result of that decrease in strikeout rate, and the relative flatness of his pitches compared to league average. According to BrooksBaseball and their PitchF/X tools, Guthrie’s curve, sinker and slider all have very little depth, especially compared to the league average.

Where Guthrie has really gotten into trouble this season has been with his sinker. A pitch he has 21.58% of the time thus far, opponents have been teeing off on it to the tune of a .372 batting average against. Meanwhile, Guthrie’s change, a pitch used only 16.89% of the time, is generating a .238 batting average against. Perhaps mixing in more changeups and fewer of those flat sinkers will make the difference.

We know what Jeremy Guthrie is: a solid fifth starter who can eat innings. All the Kansas City Royals need is for him to get back to being that pitcher.

Next: Maybe he was just hurt