KC Royals starter Yordano Ventura came into the season expected to emerge as the staff ace. Instead, he suffered through a rough first half with disappointing 5.15 ERA. He’s rebounded after the All-Star break with six solid starts.
Ventura hasn’t exactly been dominant in the second half. Instead, he’s been consistent. In six starts after the All-Star break, Ventura sports a much improved 3.26 ERA and 7.4 K/9, while averaging around 6.1 innings per outing.
That’s not really an ace. Of course, Kansas City doesn’t really need Ventura to take that role with Danny Duffy headlining both the Kansas City Royals staff, and all American League starting pitchers, with a 2.82 ERA. Right now, Ventura is performing like a solid no. 2 behind Duffy.
After Yordano Ventura‘s horrible first half, his last six starts have come as a pleasant surprise to KC Royals fans.
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His recent turnaround raises hopes that the 25-year-old has overcome his maturity problems. But, Ventura produced a similar second half charge in 2015 which made me think he’d turned the corner in his career. However, Ventura struggled to a 6.43 ERA in five post-season starts after manager Ned Yost opened the playoffs with the 24-year-old second year pitcher on the mound.
Has Ventura finally overcome his emotional demons, or is his recent performance another second-half recovery that’s nothing more than Fool’s Gold?
That’s a hard question to answer. Ventura’s stuff has always been promising. He’s got the pitches to be a no. 1 starter for the Kasnas City Royals. What he’s always lacked is the stability to withstand adversity on the mound. Ventura tends to blow up in contentious situations when egged on by opponents, including an ugly incident earlier this season when he was thrown out of a game for throwing at Baltimore’s Manny Machado.
The league suspended Ventura for eight games for the incident.
Opponents bombed Yordano Ventura for 11 runs in his next two starts after his return; but, he has not allowed more than three runs in his next seven games.
The one hopeful sign is that Ventura doesn’t seem to be trying to overthrow anymore. Instead of trying to blow the ball past hitters in critical situations, he’s throwing with the same free and easy motion that he uses when the bases are empty.
I’m not sure that’s really significant, but it might be a mark that he’s finally growing up. Of course, the KC Royals have pretty much lacked significant games since their 7-19 July debacle. Ventura could face additional pressure if the Kansas City Royals continue their recent strong play to pull back in the AL playoff picture.