Kyle Davies left the game last night in the first inning with anterior shoulder soreness and will undergo an MRI today to determine the severity of the injury. In related news, karmic retribution rains down upon Royals fans rejoicing at an injury to one of their own in the form of a 19-1 annihilation at the hands of the Cleveland Indians.
I don’t believe in karma or any other type of supernatural phenomenon, but last night’s game certainly gave me a bit of skepticism. The much-maligned pitcher Kyle Davies is removed in the first inning, only to be replaced by a parade of pitchers surrendering an unprecedented number of runs. It was the ultimate “be careful what you wish for” moment.
Before anyone could utter the phrase “Does this mean we’ll see Danny Duff..” the scoreboard was being changed so fast it looked like the dashboard of Doc Brown’s DeLorean. I think any Royals fan began to instantly question whether or not wishing for the downfall of Davies was in reality the best course of action.
I’ve long argued that while Kyle Davies isn’t a great pitcher, he’s a fine back of the rotation guy on a large swath of Major League teams. Yes, I know that Craig posited that he was the worst pitcher in history, and the numbers do bear that out. However, what I took away from those numbers is that he’s just been given a significantly longer opportunity than most back of the rotation guys. Part of that has to do with getting to the big leagues at such a young age that, combined with his above average stuff and ability to stay healthy lets him rack up a large number of innings.
I believe that a lot of the anger directed towards Kyle Davies and the resulting wishes for “someone, anyone else” are due to wanting something different. We know what Kyle Davies is, we can no longer project something onto him and as fans we want to project. Guys we don’t know, players we’ve barely seen are people we can project onto. We can dream them into a diamond in the rough, or a future ace. We know so little about them that anything is possible. With Davies, we know too much.
Last night, his health failed him and with it went his stuff. Over the past few outings, Davies had been keeping the Royals in games. Three of his last four starts were of the quality variety. Beyond that, he had completely changed his approach. He was posting career high strikeout numbers and career low walk numbers. He was finally trusting his stuff and pitching in the strike zone. It lead to a significant increase in the number of hits he allowed, but that’s to be expected. With an improved defense behind him, it was the right decision for Davies.
It’s unclear now whether he will get to prove he was a new pitcher, that will all come down to what the doctors say. Initially it was announced that he would be replaced by Robinson Tejeda, but that was premature. We’ll know more today.
But what of Vin Mazzaro, the pitcher that came to the Royals from the Oakland Athletics and was thrown to the wolves that had taken the form of Indians? In the ultimate insult added to injury, he was demoted to Omaha.
There’s little question over whether or not a Major League pitcher should be able to do better than Mazzaro did last night. He was already sitting in the bullpen, so it’s almost certain he knew he was coming into the game at the first sign of trouble from Kyle Davies. That trouble did come, and then Nate Adcock entered the game to give Mazzaro some extra time to get ready.
The game was inching out of control before Mazzaro even got in, but once he toed the rubber he threw grenades on a bonfire. Or did he? The two and a third innings he pitched didn’t really seem as bad while it was happening. The Indians didn’t crush every pitch they saw, there were lots of bloop hits and seeing eye singles –the bad-luck portion of the Batting Average on Balls in Play statistic (BABIP). The Royals weren’t making errors either, there were a few balls hit to the outfield that a speedier player might have gotten. I can remember one to each of left, center and right that someone like Jarrod Dyson would have ran down. But those happen all the time.
What I believe we witnessed last night wasn’t just a pitcher being dominated. It was a combination of bad luck, poor pitching and poor preparation. It just compounded in a historic way.
As human beings we want to try and make sense of these things. We ask ourselves what all of this means. Does it mean that the Royals are the team we thought they were before the season? Does it mean that Kyle Davies is better than we thought? Does it mean that the Dejesus trade was a bad one?
The questions are numerous, interesting and what makes baseball discussion so great. But in the end, they’re kind of pointless. The 19-1 loss to the Indians means one thing: there is one more L on the record book. I guess it also means that Kyle Davies might be on the D.L. and there will be some roster movement to get a starting pitcher. But all in all, it’s just one loss. As fans we can project whatever we want on that historic loss last night, that’s just what we do.
Update: It’s being reported that Danny Duffy will be promoted and make the start for the Royals on Wednesday.