KC Royals starter Yordano Ventura has endured a rough season. After many expected him to emerge as the Kansas City Royals ace, Ventura has instead disappointed with a 6-6 record and 5.26 ERA in 16 starts in 2016.
The most frustrating part about Ventura’s performance has been his intermittent dominance. At times he has looked like the pitcher everyone expects him to be, especially in his two starts after his blow-up against Orioles third baseman Manny Machado that drew an eight-game suspension from major-league baseball.
Ventura bounced back from that incident by allowing 1 earned run in 13.1 innings (0.68 ERA), allowing only 11 hits, and 1 walk, with 15 strikeouts. However, Ventura has gotten bombed for 11 runs in 8.0 innings while making two starts since serving his penalty.
It looks like Ventura’s problems aren’t a matter of talent. He needs to get his head right.
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That’s why I think the KC Royals need to move Yordano Ventura to the bullpen. Right now, he’s simply not giving the team the consistent starts they need to keep him in the rotation. He’s indulging in flourishes as he releases his pitches rather than maintain a good follow through. And, maybe, just maybe the focus of short outings might help him attack hitters rather than nibble.
At this point, you make the move with the clear intention of developing him as a starter rather than making it permanent. Yordano Ventura has shown he CAN be a starter for long periods of time: in particular his outstanding rookie season with the KC Royals in 2014, plus the final two months of 2015. Ventura’s talent is unquestioned.
It’s his maturity that’s a problem.
That’s not to say Yordano Ventura doesn’t work or he’s childish. What I’m talking about is maturity as a baseball player, which means developing self-confidence in a consistent approach that fits his skill set. One of the big things Danny Duffy has learned is how to identify pitches that are, and are not, working on a given day and adjusting his approach on the fly.
On the other hand, Ventura seems to wilt when his stuff gets hit. Thus, bad innings turn into disasters and take the Kansas City Royals out of the game. Ventura also has the tendency to try to overthrow in big situations, which often ends up in fat pitches or walks.
If nothing else, moving Yordano Ventura to the pen might be the wake-up call that makes him listen to KC Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland about his follow through.
I know that the Kansas City Royals are in dire need of starting pitching help. Moving Yordano Ventura to the pen would make their problems even worse, but he’s just not getting the job done right now. General manager Dayton Moore needs to find alternatives.
That’s why he sits in the big chair. No one said it was supposed to be easy.