Jason Hammel Understands The Situation
Hammel himself is well aware of the touchy atmoshere he’s walked into. He told Kansas City Star reporter Rustin Dodd on February 8:
"“I feel like I need to express my condolences to, first of all, Royals Nation and the Ventura family,” Hammel said. “Just because, I truly feel that if that unfortunate passing doesn’t happen, you guys aren’t talking to me. So I’m going to do my best here to — not necessarily replace him, because he had quite the bright future ahead of him — but I know what I bring to the table. And I want to win.”"
KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore had a much more positive take on the rotation headed into 2017. He commented to Dodd:
"“It solidifies our rotation in a way that we’re very comfortable at this point,” Moore said on Wednesday, while introducing Hammel. “We like the consistency of the rotation. I think this rotation is certainly every bit as good as any rotation that we’ve had, truthfully, as far as consistency is concerned and what it possibly can bring us.”"
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Moore has a good point. The Kansas City Royals possess three veteran starters with a track record of taking the ball for more than 25 starts a season in Hammel, Jason Vargas, and Ian Kennedy. Twenty-eight year old Danny Duffy flashed “ace” upside in 2016 and figures to headline the rotation. Nathan Karns, prospect Kyle Zimmer, Chris Young, and veteran rehab project Mike Minor will contest for the no. 5 role this spring.
Twenty-nine year old Karns, at the very least, figures to be a credible fifth starter. He features a power sinker that could still allow him to produce at a far higher level than the 3.67 ERA in 147.0 innings he posted in 2015 (his best season). Meanwhile, prospect Kyle Zimmer has top of the rotation stuff, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy. The team is quietly optimistic that thoracic outlet syndrome surgery will solve the nagging shoulder problems he’s suffered through his entire Kansas City career.
Meanwhile, if Mike Minor is healthy, he could return to the top of the rotation form he flashed four years ago for Atlanta. Kansas City Royals fans should remember Chris Young’s outstanding 2015 campaign that helped KC win the 2015 World Series. Yes, he was awful in 2016. But, he could always bounce back. Overall, Kansas City has much better fifth starter possibilities than most teams in major league baseball.