Royals Pitchers Exceeding Preseason Expectations

Apr 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (31) pitches against the Houston Astros in the third inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (31) pitches against the Houston Astros in the third inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 10, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Edinson Volquez (36) delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Edinson Volquez (36) delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /

Kennedy is hardly alone in his early-season dominance. The White Sox have jumped out to an 8-2 start behind an MLB-best 2.02 ERA. Kansas City is second in the American League and fourth in the majors with a 2.70 ERA. With home runs flying out at a record pace, pitching has proved to be huge early on: the top four MLB teams in ERA have a combined 32-7 record. The next three teams, all with ERAs over 3.15, are a paltry 15-16.

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Chris Young earned his spot on in the rotation this season with his outstanding performance in 2015, but only time will tell if he can hang on to his spot. Young is the outlier among Royals starters with a 7.90 ERA and 0-3 record in three starts. Perhaps it was just a mistake to throw him in a hitter-friendly park like Houston – the Astros torched him for nine hits and six runs in less than five innings. With Saturday’s loss to Oakland, Young now has all three Kansas City losses on his record.

Joakim Soria has been the other questionable pitcher, but his outings have improved each and every time. After one outing in which he allowed three runs and recorded just two outs, his ERA skyrocketed to 40.50. Since then, he’s thrown five innings, allowing four hits and just one more run. In two of his last five innings, he’s thrown hitless innings. On April 13 against Houston, he needed just five pitches to retire the side.

Beyond that, the Royals pitchers have been outstanding. Steady Edinson Volquez has allowed just four earned runs in 17.2 innings in his three starts. Yordano Ventura has allowed just three runs in his first two starts. Even more impressive, he’s allowed just six hits in 11 innings. His downfall so far has been nine walked batters.

Kris Medlen also looked good in his only start of the season against Houston last week. Medlen only lasted five innings, but struck out seven and gave up two runs to notch the win. More importantly, Medlen’s stuff looked live and similar to the guy who dominated as a top-of-the-rotation starter for Atlanta before suffering a torn UCL that forced him to miss the 2014 season. He finally looks fully recovered in 2016.

Next: The Bullpen