Yesterday, it was announced that Kris Medlen would be entering the KC Royals rotation in place of Jeremy Guthrie. It was a move that was inevitable, especially given Guthrie’s struggles this season. While he had been a dependable back of the rotation starter for much of his Royals tenure, Guthrie had posted an 8-7 record despite a 5.65 ERA and a 1.574 WHiP this season. A move needed to be made.
As Guthrie had struggled, Medlen has pitched well. In his past eleven innings, he has allowed six hits and five walks, striking out ten. In his past four outings, spanning eight innings, Medlen has found his control, issuing just one walk with seven strikeouts. Even though it may take him some time to pitch deep into the game, as Dave Eiland suggested that it could be two or three starts for that to happen, Medlen is certainly the better option at this point.
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It is easy to get on Jeremy Guthrie and complain about his production. As a fifth starter, he is the KC Royals fourth highest player, if Johnny Cueto is considered for his full contract. That is certainly money that one would feel would be better spent elsewhere. Yet, while he may be overpaid, Guthrie has been a solid member of the Royals rotation during his time in Kansas City, posting a 41-33 record with a 4.27 ERA and a 1.364 WHiP. Those numbers are certainly respectable for a back of the rotation pitcher.
It is also easy to forget that Guthrie would rise to the occasion when needed. As much as one may point to his uncanny tendency to pitch to the score, giving up runs when the Royals bats are producing, the opposite held true. In the Royals 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on July 3rd, Guthrie allowed only two runs in his 7.1 innings of work. He did the same in his previous outing, allowing two runs in six innings during the Royals 5-3 victory on June 28th against the Oakland A’s.
As maddening as Guthrie could have been on the mound at times, it is still better than the alternative. Do not forget that Guthrie came over to the Royals for Jonathan Sanchez, who made only eight more major league appearances after the deal and was out of baseball at the age of 31. That trade certainly worked out well for the Royals.
Jeremy Guthrie has been an important part of the KC Royals being where they currently are. He has helped the young players grow into a winning franchise. While Guthrie may be an easy target, do not forget the positive impact he has had on the Royals over the past few years.