The Kansas City Royals decision to move on from James Shields last season was made, in part, because it was expected that their young starters would be ready to take on the responsibility of being front of the rotation arms. Both Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy had made impressive strides last season, giving the Royals optimism that they had the future for their rotation already in place. In fact, the optimism was such that the Royals rewarded Ventura with a five year contract extension with two team options.
Instead, both Duffy and Ventura have struggled. Duffy has dealt with injury issues, yet since he came back from the disabled list, has looked more like the pitcher of last season, producing a 2.66 ERA and a 1.204 WHiP. Ventura, meanwhile, while also dealing with injury woes, has struggled for most of the season, and had even been banished to Omaha, only to promptly return when Jason Vargas was injured later that day.
Now, with the acquisition of Johnny Cueto, Chris Young in the bullpen and the possibility that Kris Medlen could, at some point, rejoin the rotation, it may be time to revisit the idea of sending Ventura to Omaha. Ventura’s overall numbers, a 6-7 record with a 5.29 ERA and a 1.34 WHiP, certainly do not inspire confidence that his performance will improve on their own.
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While there is the belief that Jeremy Guthrie should be the pitcher that gets banished to the bullpen, either for Medlen or Young, he actually has not been that much worse than Yordano Ventura. In fact, if one takes out that horrendous start against the New York Yankees on Memorial Day, Guthrie actually has better numbers this season than Ventura, with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.375 WHiP. This is not what the Kansas City Royals expected from their ace starter.
With Chris Young waiting in the wings, and Kris Medlen working his way back, the time may be right to revisit that demotion for Ventura. The Royals will need Ventura to be back to himself, not just for the postseason push, but for years to come. If Ventura is going to develop into that ace starter, or even a solid front of the rotation pitcher, then it is imperative that he finds himself once again.
Much like a brief demotion to Omaha appeared to do wonders for Mike Moustakas last season, it may be time to give Ventura that same mental vacation. Perhaps it will work much the same way that break worked for Moustakas last year, and a more confident Ventura appears over the month and a half of the season, continuing into October.
It is time that the Kansas City Royals send Yordano Ventura back to Omaha. This time, instead of having him turn around on the highway, he should stay for a week or two.