The Kansas City Royals rotation has pulled out of its September swoon just in time for the playoffs. In their last turn through the rotation, the five starters posted a collective 2.01 ERA in 31.1 innings pitched. Unsurprisingly, the KC Royals went 4-1 in those five games—including their current four-game winning streak.
That’s a little more like it.
The biggest turnaround has come from Johnny Cueto, who has allowed eight runs in his last 20.0 innings (three starts). This solid (3.60 ERA) performance comes after a horrendous stretch where he allowed 28 runs in 26.1 innings. However, each of the Kansas City Royals four other starters were even more impressive in the last four games, allowing only one earned run apiece.
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Yordano Ventura has been the most impressive. Ventura capped a strong final two months with a seven-innng, 11 strikeout performance on Saturday that eliminated the Twins from playoff contention. Ventura has seemingly learned how to compliment his terrific fastball with breaking stuff. He’s now missing bats more like you’d expect from a guy with his heat.
In short, Ventura (13-9, 4.08 ERA) has suddenly become the ace that analysts believed he could be after his strong rookie season that culminated in a dominating one-run outing in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series that staved off elimination for the Kansas City Royals.
Steady Edinson Volquez continues to be the most consistent member of the rotation. Volquez (13-9, 3.58 ERA) has given general manager Dayton Moore everything he could have expected when he signed Volquez to a two-year, $20 million deal last winter. Finally, Kris Medlen and Chris Young have given Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost a difficult choice for the fourth starter position. Both gave strong peformances in their final starts of the season.
My choice would be Chris Young, since he’s shown a pattern of short-term dominance that fades as he takes the ball every five days. With only 19 potential games remaining in the playoffs, Young should remain fresh throughout the post-season. On the flip side, I don’t think Kris Medlen is completely recovered from his second Tommy John surgery. However, Medlen has a history as a no. 1 starter for the Braves for a year and half—a performance level Chris Young has never been able to maintain over his career.
Either way Ned Yost decides, the KC Royals rotation appears ready for the post-season to begin. One week ago, I wouldn’t have written that last sentence.
Here’s to our second straight Blue October! I must admit, if you told me after the 2012 season that we were on the edge of new Golden Era of Kansas City Royals baseball—I wouldn’t have believed you.