One would have to imagine that there will not be many questions facing the Kansas City Royals postseason roster. The starting lineup may be essentially set, and we know who the top three starters will be with Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura. However, the biggest battle maybe for that fourth spot in the playoff rotation.
At this point, it would seem as though the battle would be between Kris Medlen and Danny Duffy. Both pitchers, while they have had their moments this season, are still somewhat of a question mark in the quest for that final starting spot. Medlen is coming off his second Tommy John surgery, and while he has generally pitched well, there is not guarantee that his arm will hold up. Duffy has had his struggles through the season, posting a 4.11 ERA and a 1.412 WHiP, coinciding with a decrease in his strikeout rate.
Both pitchers have had their moments as well. Medlen, after a rough debut for the Royals, had allowed only six runs in 22.1 innings prior to Friday night’s outing, striking out 21 batters while allowing 15 hits and six walks. Duffy had appeared to have gotten his season on track since the All-Star Break, posting a solid 3.46 ERA in his 52 innings before last night’s loss.
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With 27 games left in the season, these next few starts may well make the difference. Both Kris Medlen and Danny Duffy should have five starts left, unless Ned Yost and the Kansas City Royals choose to insert some of their September callups for a start or two. The clock is certainly ticking for either pitcher to make that push to secure their spot in the rotation.
If the season was to end tonight, it might make the most sense to put Duffy in the rotation. While both Medlen and Duffy have experience in relief, Duffy has spent the entire season starting this year. Medlen, meanwhile, has seven relief appearances in 2015, potentially making such a transition easier. With both pitchers having similar production overall, the knowledge that Medlen can succeed in a relief role may be the deciding factor.
The battle for the fourth spot in the playoff rotation may come down to the final start for Kris Medlen and Danny Duffy. It may prove to be a difficult decision for the Kansas City Royals when the calender flips to October.