It was certainly an eventful trade deadline for the Kansas City Royals. Even though they did not make any moves today, their acquisitions of Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist mark two of the Royals biggest trades in the week or so surrounding the deadline. Dayton Moore certainly did his part, as he looked to maximize this opportunity.
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Yet, even with these headline grabbing trades, there was the feeling that the Royals should not consider themselves a finished product at the trade deadline. The starting rotation, even with Cueto, is still a concern, especially with Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Young not exactly impressing in their past few outings. According to Andy McCullough, Young is being removed from the rotation to make room for Cueto.
At least for now, Guthrie’s role is safe. Yet, if he continues to struggle, the Kansas City Royals standing pat today would seem to be a mistake. The belief that the Royals need another starter would be magnified tenfold, and the positive feeling that the fan base has will be forgotten. However, the Royals may already have that replacement pitcher on the team. Kris Medlen, who is still working his way back from his second Tommy John surgery as a member of the Royals bullpen, could potentially take that role.
The overall numbers for Medlen may not look great, as he has allowed ten baserunners in 6.1 innings, including an uncharacteristic four walks. Even with this wildness, Medlen has struck out seven batters, and has helped save the rest of the Royals bullpen in a mopup role.
As Kris Medlen continues to round back into form, that control should come back. After all, prior to missing the past year and a half, Medlen had allowed only 2.1 walks per nine innings in his career. His control was a large part of his overall success at the major league level, and with command being an issue following the procedure, it is no surprise that this has been a struggle.
However, if Medlen can continue to progress with his control in a relief role, while slowly being stretched out or pitching more frequently, he could be a candidate to take over in the rotation. Jeremy Guthrie has been a solid member of the Royals rotation over the past few years, and Chris Young did more than one could have expected, but neither are exactly exciting options. Medlen, meanwhile, if he is right, has proven to be a solid middle to top of the rotation starter.
The Kansas City Royals may not have made a move today, but that does not mean that upgrades will not be forthcoming. In fact, the Royals could well have that upgrade to their starting rotation in Kris Medlen.