Although the Royals official website lists Bruce Chen as the probable starting pitcher on Sunday, I do not believe that is correct. At this point in this season, there is no reason to bring back Chen on short rest. Not to mention, for all that he has done for Kansas City the past two years, this is still Bruce Chen we are talking about: a solid contributor to the rotation, but not a pitcher you want on the hill so bad that you bring him back on three days rest.
The last we heard from Ned Yost, lefty Everett Teaford is the tentative starter for the Sunday game, ‘unless the Royals need him to win a game between now and then.’ First off, Ned, your quest to get win number 63 is decidedly secondary to preparing for next year: just forget Everett is out in the pen (you’ve done that before) and let him start on Sunday.
Assuming Teaford does actually get to start on Sunday, that would put him in line to get two additional starts before the season’s end. Both of those would be on Saturdays and both would be against the White Sox. Now, after the current four game set with Seattle, the Royals are going to be playing the Twins, White Sox and Tigers. Detroit comes in for just a two game set, so 12 of the last 14 are against Minnesota and Chicago.
With the Sox currently nine back of Detroit, nobody the Royals play is likely to be very interested and their lineups might be sprinkled with a fair number of September call-ups. Still, if starts two and three are against the same team, usually a daunting task for any starter, it might tell us more than a little about Everett Teaford’s future as a starter. At least, it might give us an idea, which is more than we have now.
Royals’ fans have been stung by September starts before, of course. Kyle Davies made millions by have a stellar September and Dayton Moore traded Leo Nunez for Mike Jacobs under the false assumption that an 18-8 September meant the Royals were ready to contend the following season, so we need to be careful. That said, IF Teaford is granted the three starts he would currently be in line for, it would give us some indication of whether he might fit at the back of the 2012 starting rotation.
Some, mind you, and far more than we will have based on the one start that Luis Mendoza, Vin Mazzaro and Sean O’Sullivan might get after the AAA playoffs are over. Truthfully, I don’t care if they do get a start or share a start or whatever. It is quite possible that should Luis Mendoza take the mound for the season’s final game on September 28th that he will be facing a Twins’ lineup that is not as good as what he just faced in the first game of the AAA playoffs.
And it will be just one start. If three Everett Teaford starts gives us just an inkling, than one does one Mendoza start give us?
The Royals have talked a fair amount about getting a look at Mendoza, Mazzaro and SOS this September in an effort to ‘see what they’ve got’, but the truth is they won’t really know anything. Not off of one start or even two against teams with nothing to play for.
That is not to say the Royals should not give them a start. After all, Hochevar is at a career high in innings, Paulino has a bad back and veterans Francis and Chen have shouldered their share of the load in 2011. Heck, if the Royals wanted to trot out a rotation of Teaford, Adcock, Mendoza, O’Sullivan, Mazzaro the last couple of weeks of 2011, I would not have a huge problem with it.
Organizations are not supposed to say it outloud, but would it not be better in the long term to win 65 games and pick third in next June’s draft than to win 70 and pick eighth?
Whatever the Royals decide to do with their rotation from here on out is not going to raise my ire in any respect. If you are asking, I think they should try to get as many starts for the unknowns as possible. The limited number of innings, however, won’t really tell us anything…or at least not very much…but maybe something….sort of.