Kansas City Royals Rotation is October Ready

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The month of August has been near perfection for the Kansas City Royals.  Johnny Cueto got his first win with the club, a beautiful shutout of the Detroit Tigers.  Ben Zobrist was already walk-n-rollin’ right into the fanbase’s heart before slaying the Fire-breathing Dragon of Cincy (a home run off of Aroldis Chapman).  And prior to Friday’s matchup with Tampa Bay, have only lost 8 of their last 25.

However good the Royals have been, they can (and will) only get better.  With the imminent October Postseason looming over the horizon, they team has the ability to greatly enhance their Rotation.

At the beginning of the season, the Kansas City Royals glorious ride to first place was marred only by starting pitching.  But in the last month, a number of adjustments have made the rotation as dangerous and skilled as anything in the Major Leagues.

It’s almost foolish to mention, but Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez are virtually guaranteed to have the #1 and #2 spots in the Playoff Rotation.  Cueto was hired specifically to start every Game 1, and Volquez has been our most consistent (and most winningest) starting pitcher this season.  Don’t expect them to be in the bullpen come October.

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Danny Duffy has been much more consistent since coming off the DL, but occasionally lacks command.  But being the only left-handed rotation option insures his placement in the Final Four for Playoff rotation.

Most importantly, Yordano Ventura has finally transformed into the pitcher we’ve been dying to see since April.  Since the beginning of August, Ventura has won four decisions.  On Thursday, his start was nothing short of spectacular.  Full loaded with a tank of gasoline, Ventura struck out 11 in six strong innings without allowing a single run.  His fastball consistently touched 99-100, hit his marks, and his curveball dumbfounded the Orioles.

The Royals may have the best defense in baseball, but Ventura is destined to be a strike out pitcher.  If he “throws fire” with the accuracy we glimpsed against Baltimore, let’s forget eating eatings.  We have one of the best, and certainly the deepest, bullpens in all of baseball.  Five to six solid innings of strikeouts and clutch pitching is more than enough to keep Ventura an important fixture for the playoffs.

One plus, as much as it pains to mention, was the removal of Jeremy Guthrie from the rotation.  Guthrie brought balance and consistency to a much maligned rotation in 2012, and his consistent 4.00 ERA and ability to eat innings earned him the “reliable” moniker, but he was in 2015, quite simply, not good. 

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And with such a large divisional lead, Guthrie’s push to the bullpen has allowed Ned Yost to enact the Kris Medlen Experiment.  On August 24th, we all witnessed first hand six strong innings of three-run ball and six K’s.  Those six innings saw Medlen throw a mere 69 pitches, 49 for strikes. Medlen’s ability to punch the strike zone and miss bats, in conjunction with his Postseason experience makes him an ideal choice for the October rotation.

What about Chris Young?  Chris Young dazzled early in the season, before bats became familiar with his funky approach and his stamina dwindled.  Let the man recharge and be a secret late-inning weapon – the “invisiball” should do wonders against October bats.

In no particular order, the Final Four of the Postseason Rotation should be: Cueto, Volquez, Ventura, and Duffy.  Kris Medlen and Chris Young are too important in long-relief roles to be anywhere else.  Need a reminder of the power of long-relief?  Game 4 of last year’s World Series.

Come this October, the Kansas City Royals, and their rotation, will be ready.

Next: Royals Seeing Ventura Become an Ace

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