Monday, July 4, 2011

Fixing the Royals Rotation

Currently, the Royals are looking at a rotation of Jeff Francis, Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Danny Duffy, Kyle Davies and Felipe Paulino.  This is not working, as their record shows.  Inconsistency and lack of talent plague the current staff and something has got to change, so begins the search for the perfect five!  Ace’s like Roy Halladay and CC Sabthia aren’t possible or necessary, so we must look through the bargain bin on our search.  The Royals don’t need rental veterans, they need guys who can be with the team long term at a fair price.  In order to do this, we need to look at the numbers over the course of multiple season, raw talent, ball parks, and consistency.  The first player that meets our criteria is Josh Outman, of the Oakland A’s.

Josh Outman (Oakland) - Age: 26 - Throws: L

Lowdown:  Josh is still very young and is only going to get better.  He has played three seasons in the league, 2008, 2009, and 2011.  He missed the end of 2009 and all of 2010 with Tommy John Surgery, which means he is just now coming back into full form as it normally takes around one and a half years to fully recover.  He only had four starts in 2008, with a mediocre 4.56 (ironically the best ERA of any current Royals starter) but started 12 games in 2009, earning four wins with a 3.48 ERA and 53 strike outs.  Most people have forgotten about Mr. Outman, since he wasn’t anywhere close to a big name before his injury and no one mentioned him during the 2010 season.  Josh was called up from the minors this season and started eight games earning three wins with a 3.47 ERA, seeming to pick up where he left off before his surgery.  Sadly, Outman was optioned back to the minors this week due to the A’s pitching depth.  This would lead us to believe that Outman is expendable and easily had.  If he can continue pitching how he has in his time in the majors this season, he makes for a fantastic talent at a great price. 

Clayton Richard (San Diego) – Age: 27 – Throws: L

Lowdown:  Clayton has played for the Padres since the middle of 2009 and has been nothing but solid.  Although he isn't a huge strikeout guy, he has excellent command of his pitches. Richard started 12 games for the Padres in 2009, winning five with a 4.08 ERA and followed that performance up in 2010 by starting 33 games and winning 14 with a 3.75 ERA.  He has continued to be rock solid in 2011, starting 17 games while maintaining a 4.09 ERA.  It's important to keep in mind that he has had exactly zero run support in his time with the Padres, aside from what Adrian Gonzales had given him before he bounced to Boston.  He has thrived at pitcher friendly Petco Park, which we can assume would continue at pitcher friendly Kaufman Stadium, plus he would have the Royal’s hurricane of youth giving him run support.  The Padres are far more worried about their lack of offense than their already legitimate pitching staff, making him attainable with some of the Royals extra pieces and rental players (take your pick of Melky, Betemit, Aviles, Kila).

That gives us two realistic pieces to add to the staff that have been far better than anyone we have thrown out there this season.  Now what to do with the current staff? 

  • Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen’s contract are up at the end of the year, and it is safe to say that if they are not traded they will be told to walk. 
  • Kyle Davies would make a fantastic long reliever coming out of the pen.  He has always gone two or three strong innings before imploding and allowing five or six runs, inflating his ERA. 
  • Felipe Paulino could also come out of the pen, as well as become the emergency starter if an injury occurred to anyone in the rotation.
  • Luke Hochevar has shown enough progress and flashes of excellence that he can continue in the staff.  Ned Yost and Bob McClure need to do a better job realizing when he has hit a wall and relieving him.  Time after time Hochevar pitches gem’s and then proceeds to get smashed in the 6th or 7th inning.
  • Danny Duffy will also be allowed to stay in the rotation as he is young and needs a chance to grow and get better.  He can man the bottom of the rotation until he reaches his full potential.
  • Mike Montgomery would fill out the fifth spot in the rotation.  The AAA flame thrower has upper rotation stuff and although he has struggled at times this season, he has the mental focus and talent to succeed in the bigs.  If Montgomery’s shaky 2011 bothers you, I would then reference Aaron Crow's minor league season from last year and compare it to his big league performance this year (5.73 ERA in 29 minor league starts last season, All Star this season). 
The final rotation looks like this: Josh Outman, Luke Hochevar, Clayton Richard, Danny Duffy, Mike Montgomery.  This, my friends, is how you make a gourmet dish out of the Wendy’s Value menu.