If Felipe Paulino can keep gobbling those innings, then he will certainly have value in this six man rotation.
Speaking of the six man rotation, I’m all for it. In fact, I enthusiastically endorse the idea.
The Royals currently have the worst rotation in the AL. They are not only in last place in the Central, but they have the worst record in the league. Say it with me: Transition year. (Unfortunately, the way the pitching is going in the minors, next year may be a transition year as well. That’s for another time.) When your starting rotation consists of Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Jeff Francis, Paulino, Kyle Davies and Danny Duffy a six man rotation makes all the sense in the world. That’s three inconsistent starters who more frequently are ineffective, one starter who is currently average, the worst starting pitcher ever and one guy with upside.
Basically, when you run six guys out there, you’re protecting the guy with upside. (As I hoped you guessed, that pitcher is Duffy.)
What’s happening is the Royals are limiting Duffy’s innings by adding that extra starter to the rotation – but not by much. If you go a full season with a six man rotation as opposed to a five man, you’re starters will make (on average) five fewer starts. Since we’re officially at the halfway point, this would work out to two and a half fewer starts over the rest of the season. It’s not a huge difference, but every little bit helps when you’re trying to bring along a young arm.
So it’s not like the Royals are taking a start away from Koufax or Drysdale. This is Hochevar and Francis. A six man rotation is fine. I hope they stick with it for the rest of the season.
Back to Paulino. For the second consecutive game, he’s pitched through trouble and gone deep into the game. He threw 117 pitches to go eight innings last week and on Tuesday he tossed 118 pitches in seven. This isn’t a new pattern of usage for him. At one point last season, he topped 100 pitches in 10 consecutive starts. Too bad he never got the chance for 11 as he landed on the DL with shoulder inflammation and then was converted to relief.
We’ll see how he bounces back from a pair of deep starts, but since he’s a stopgap member of this team, I’m fine with getting all the mileage out of him we can. If he can give us seven or eight innings a start and keep the team in games, that’s perfect. Ned Yost needs to figure ways to save those arms in the pen. Maybe Paulino is part of the answer for the rest of the season.
— Another lineup shuffle last night as Yost slotted The Shortstop Jesus to bat second for the first time this season. Yes, lately Yost has been tinkering with the lineup like a Hillman-esque mad manager, but for the most part, Yost has played it safe this season. Through 80 games, he’s filled out just 49 different batting orders. By comparison, in 2009, SABR Trey (kind of miss that guy) had 141 unique lineups in 162 games.
Don’t forget, this team still lacks a true leadoff hitter and a number two hitter. Really, I’d like Yost to move Gordon back to the top spot and drop Cabrera back down.
By the way, since the end of that epic road trip for Escobar, he’s hitting .148/.233/.222 over his last eight games. It happens just that quickly…
— I’m loving the outfield assists. And I’m loving the fact that opposing teams are ignoring what is one of the truths about the 2011 Royals: This team can play some outfield defense. However, it’s frustrating when – an inning after The Frenchman picks up another outfield assist by gunning down a runner at the plate – Gordon airmails a throw to third allowing a run to score. What made the play even worse was the fact the throw didn’t need to be made. The runner, Cameron Maybin, hit second and faked going to third. Gordon had the ball and was moving toward the infield and had the play in front of him. Even if Maybin had taken off for the next base, Gordon would have had plenty of time to make the throw to third. No need to hurry in that situation, which is what happened.
— In the eighth inning of Tuesday’s game, Chris Getz swiped second and then, for good measure, also stole third. Both plays were close and both featured head first slides where he almost came off the bag, but he was safe on both. This gave the Royals a golden opportunity to cut the Padres lead to one, but Melky Cabrera failed to put the ball in play, striking out on a slider down and in and Alcides Escobar hit a harmless fly to right to end the inning.
At the time, I tweeted that Getz’s steals were “worthless.” Some thought I was knocking Getz. Not at all. He thought he could steal on the Padres in that situation and he was clearly correct in that assumption. What made the steals “worthless” was the fact Cabrera and Escobar couldn’t cash in on his aggressiveness. The Melk-Man has been decent in a situation where there’s a runner on third with less than two down. He’s brought home that runner half the time. The only bad thing about the Getz steals was it he couldn’t have stolen both bases on one pitch. Being on third with two strikes on Cabrera wasn’t ideal.
— Just for fun, here’s a list of how the team has done with a runner on third base and less than two outs. The percentage represents how frequently that particular batter has brought home the run with a minimum of 10 plate appearances:
Mike Aviles – 69%
Brayan Pena – 64%
Chris Getz – 60%
Jeff Francoeur – 56%
Wilson Betemit – 53%
Alex Gordon – 53%
Eric Hosmer – 53%
Melky Cabrera – 50%
Matt Treanor – 50%
Alcides Escobar – 48%
Billy Butler – 38%
League average is 52%. As a team, the Royals are at 50%.
Uh-oh. I probably just gave Butler Haters some more ammo.