Last year, the Kansas City Royals expected Yordano Ventura to be the ace of the staff. They may have just been a year too early.
Heading into the 2015 season, the Kansas City Royals expected that Yordano Ventura would be able to take over for James Shields and front their rotation. He certainly displayed plenty of poise during Game Six of the 2014 World Series, shutting down the Giants to stave off elimination. As he was coming off a year where he posted a solid 14-10 record with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.259 WHiP, he seemed ready to take the next step.
Instead, we all know how that turned out. Ventura was unable to keep him emotions in check during the early part of the season, and he continued to struggle. If not for Jason Vargas eventually needing to undergo Tommy John surgery, Ventura’s stay in Omaha would have lasted much longer. As it was, the Royals had to trade for Johnny Cueto to be that ace they felt they needed to win the World Series.
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Now, with Cueto gone, the Kansas City Royals once again have those high expectations for Ventura, expecting that he will be able to be the ace of their staff. This time, at least thus far in Spring Training, Ventura looks as though he may be up to the challenge. Yesterday, in his four innings of work, Ventura looked every bit the ace they Royals hoped for, as he struck out six while allowing only one hard hit ball.
Perhaps the biggest sign that Ventura is ready to assume that mantle was his stuff yesterday. While everyone knows of his electric fastball, Ventura’s secondary offerings showed that same potential. His curve was excellent, and he was able to throw all three pitches for strikes at any point. This was wha tthe Royals were hoping to see.
Yes, it is one Spring Training start. And yes, maybe the players and teams are not yet at the point where they are getting ready for the regular season. However, Ventura did face a White Sox lineup with Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier, so he did face some actual competition.
The Kansas City Royals need Yordano Ventura to step up and be the ace they need this season. Thus far, it looks like he may be ready to take that step.