The KC Royals are looking for an upgrade to their starting rotation. However, that upgrade may come from internal options like Kris Medlen.
When the KC Royals signed Kris Medlen to a two year contract with a team option for a third season, they likely were not sure as to what they were getting. Medlen had missed all of the 2014 season after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery, and the track record of pitchers with more than one of those procedures is not exactly stellar. After all, Chris Capuano is the only pitcher to make more than ten starts after his second surgery.
Medlen came close to that mark last year for the Royals. He appeared in fifteen games, making eight starts, spanning 58.1 innings. Medlen posted a solid 4.01 ERA, good enough for an ERA+ of 104, putting him slightly above league average. His 1.269 WHiP was a bit above his career norms, but Medlen did struggle with his command early on in his recovery process.
Healthy, and with a full offseason to recover and get himself back into his typical training program, Medlen is likely to improve upon those numbers. Even though he only pitched a combined 94.2 innings including his rehab in the minors and his postseason appearances, Medlen may well be the key to the Royals rotation next season.
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Although the KC Royals are counting on the continued progression of Yordano Ventura and for Edinson Volquez to replicate his performance from last season, they still need someone else to step up in the starting rotation. Medlen, who has had moments of dominance in the past, may well be that pitcher to take the next step forward next season.
While Medlen may be on an innings limit, having pitched a total of 94.2 innings between the minors, majors and postseason, he could still be a valuable part of the rotation. Should Medlen be able to replicate his 2013 season, when he posted a 3.11 ERA and a 1.223 WHiP, striking out 157 batters against 47 walks in 197 innings of work, he would be exactly what the Royals rotation needs.
Given the state of the “known quantities” available in free agency, the Royals may find themselves looking for that upgrade through the pitchers they already have. Medlen, another year removed from Tommy John surgery, may be the most likely candidate to take that needed step forward next season, giving the Royals the pitcher they need at the top of the rotation.
The KC Royals need someone to step up next season and lead their starting rotaiton. Kris Medlen may be the pitcher that can take on the mantle of staff ace, provided he is fully healthy.