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In the blink of an eye, the Royals solved another of their roster mysteries yesterday by placing Felipe Paulino on the 15 day disabled list.  With that, Luis Mendoza became the fourth starter and Danny Duffy secured a roster spot and the role of fifth starter.

Paulino, who had been anything but sharp this spring, might be eligible to come off the disable list as early as April 10th.   The way the Royals’ early season schedule flows, he could theoretically return in time to take the fifth starter’s second turn, but it seems unlikely he will return that quickly.

To begin with, Paulino was put on the disabled list with the rather mysterious ‘sore elbow’, which we have seen could be anything from ‘just a little sore and we don’t like how you’re pitching and anyway we really want time to look at these other two guys’ to ‘sorry, you’re having surgery’.   My guess is the Royals really are not sure why Paulino’s elbow is sore and hence have no desire to rush him back.   

The benefit of this hopefully mild injury is that is delays having to send Danny Duffy to AAA or figuring out what to do with the out of options Luis Mendoza (Paulino is also out of options). 

Although he has struggled mightily this spring, Duffy probably has the best stuff on the current rotation and I really want to see if he has figured out how to a) throw more strikes and b) get strike three against major league hitters.   In Mendoza, even us critical, jaded spirits here at Royals Authority are now curious as to what this guy can really do in real major league games that are not played when the leaves are falling off trees.

Listen, as Craig mentioned yesterday, while spring training stats don’t mean much, Mendoza’s are so good that, coupled with his excellent AAA season in what is basically a hitters’ league, the Royals almost have to see what he can do.   I will be curious to see how long the leash is on Mendoza.   Do the Royals really, really believe in him now or, like many of us, do they remain skeptical that Luis has turned himself into a legit major league starter?



The whole Opening Day starter thing is waaaaay overblown. Who really cares? I mean, other than the starter?

There is one thing that kind of bugs me about Chen getting the ball for Opening Day. One would assume it’s a reward handed to the best pitcher on your staff. In the Royals case, there isn’t exactly a stand out starter in the rotation. Fine. All winter the Royals have said there were three locks for the rotation: Hochevar, Chen and Sanchez. Understandable. Those three represent the three pillars of roster building: The high draft pick. The big money free agent.* And the big trade.

Given the pedigrees and the financial commitments, it’s no wonder these three guys were “locks.”

*Please bear with me here. When I say “big money” free agent, it’s relative. Although Chen did represent Dayton Moore’s most aggressive foray into the free agent market since 2008 when he splashed the cash on Kyle Farnsworth. So yes, Chen was a big free agent signing. And yes, that’s sad.

So what bothers me about Chen as the Opening Day starter is the fact he’s been horrible this spring. (At least before his start on Tuesday when he pitched six strong innings before faltering in the seventh.) It’s part of baseball’s caste system I suppose, where a guy like Johnny Giavotella has to battle Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt for a roster spot – and is ultimately demoted for a sub-par spring. Meanwhile, Chen owns an 11.25 ERA in 18 innings where batters are hitting .405 against him and he gets the Opening Day carrot. Ahh… the luxury of being the veteran.

Big picture, it’s not a huge deal. We’ve seen Chen pitch the last two summers and while he’s not overwhelming, he’s at least been adequate. And I really can’t concern myself with spring stats for veteran pitchers. They work on certain things and pitch to prepare for the season. Completely different mindset as opposed to the real games. His command has been fine – just two walks with 12 strikeouts – so I’m not too worried about Chen. He’ll be underwhelming, win a few games and everyone will think he’s awesome.

And is it me, or does the whole “stack the rotation so it goes LHP-RHP-LHP-RHP-??? not really make a huge difference. I suppose there will be series where you throw a pair of lefties against a weaker side of a platoon, or vice-versa, but I just don’t really see how this matters. Really, what difference does a rotation make at all? Ideally, you want your best starters to make the most appearances. So if your each member of your rotation didn’t miss a single start all year, starters one and two would make 33 starts while three through five would toe the slab 32 times. Ho-hum. Certainly, at some point a manager could juggle the rotation to make sure his best two starters gained those extra starts.

And you have to love the people who worry about matching up their number one starter with the other team’s top guy. Because it doesn’t always happen that way.

Quick example: if the A’s decide to use a fifth starter in the first week of the season (anything can happen with the A’s since they’re opening the season Wednesday in Tokyo) that pitcher would match-up against Chen. In his second start of the season.

See what I mean?

It’s understood that Yosty is stacking his rotation so Hochevar gets the home opener against the Indians. That’s cool, I suppose. Personally, I’d much rather pay to see a Hochevar start instead of Chen. At least while I’m still intrigued to see if Hochevar can carry over his second half success from last season.

Somebody has to start Opening Day. Might as well be Chen.

More pressing is the same question we’ve been asking all spring: Who will hold down the fourth and fifth spots of the rotation? The fact the Royals and Dayton Moore obviously crush on Luis Mendoza – not to mentions that the dude is out of options – means he gets one of the two. I’d like to disagree, but damnit, he’s pitched well enough to earn a shot.

My hunch is the fifth spot goes to Felipe Paulino. I will stand by this prediction: Put the guy in the rotation, let him make 30 to 32 starts and at the end of the season he will have been the best starter on the staff. I truly believe that. Like Mendoza, he is out of options. This is a case where the option situation will save the Royals from doing something foolish. Yeah for rules!

So that leaves Danny Duffy as the odd man out. Sucks for Duffy, but I would bet that he goes down to Triple-A, dominates, and is back in the Royals rotation by May. He can take the place of Chen.

The Royals have done their part to stay in the news on the true opening day of the NCAA Tournament (Michigan State, by the way, ended up winning my bracket – because I know that was what you all were waiting for).   Let’s just round up some of the goings on.


Yesterday I said not to panic and even today, we probably should not.  A torn meniscus is the cause for knee surgery for the Royals’ catcher of the present and future.   We have heard no firm timetable, but the absolute best case is four weeks and the worst case seems to be somewhere along the lines of eight weeks.  Add at least a week of rehab appearances, maybe two if Perez ends up taking closer to eight to get healthy and Kansas City is realistically looking at an early May return for Salvador.

Assuming my made up logic is anywhere close, I don’t think the Royals need to jump through any hoops to find a catcher to handle the bulk of the playing time.  Brayan Pena is sub-par behind the plate and Max Ramirez is something worse than that, but both have played in the majors and both can hit a little.   I would advocate laboring through the 23 games in April with those two as the catching tandem and hope Perez returns when the Yankees and Red Sox come to Kansas City in early May.

Now, if a veteran dropped in the Royals’ lap and was willing to play everyday for a month or so and then sit the bench the better part of the year for a million bucks (yeah, that’s right, Ivan Rodriguez is exactly who I am talking about) that would be great.  I think it is unlikely and certainly do not believe Dayton Moore should be trying to trade for such a player, but it does not hurt to keep an ear to the ground.

On a long-term note, this is not a bad knee injury and while anything regarding ‘knees’ and ‘catchers’ gets one nervous, Salvador has youth on his side.  Until something begins to tell us otherwise, I think the Royals can assume Perez will come back ready to assume the heavy workload they had planned for him when he signed the contract extension this spring.


By now you have  all heard that shortstop Alcides Escobar has inked a four year contract extension that will pay him a cool million in 2012 and then three million per year each of the next three seasons.   The Royals also hold team options for 2016 ($5.25 million) and 2017 ($6.5 million) with a $500,000 buyout.

Now, if Escobar never hits, but continues to be an elite fielder, this guaranteed four years of this deal probably average out at about market rate.   However, if the shortstop Jesus does hit some or, let’s dream a little, hits decently, then this is a great deal for the Royals.   The downside is that Escobar’s bat gets even worse and his defense goes with it (see Berroa, Angel), but Kansas City has to take some leaps of faith and fix some costs for the future, while also hopefully securing talent with that fixed cost.

That is what the Escobar, Perez and to some extent Billy Butler’s extension of last year does.  Nothing about any of those deals is roster wrecking if they don’t pan out and maybe, in some small part, the combination of these helps grease the wheels of future, more important and more expensive, contracts.


One possible, albeit longshot contender for the starting rotation was sent to minor league camp yesterday:  Mike Montgomery.   After his struggles at AAA last year, the demotion of the Royals’ number one pitching prospect was no big surprise and certainly a very rational move.   The lefty pitches in Kansas City this year, it is just a question of when.   I put the over/under at July 5th.

Also going down was Wil Myers, Nathan Adcock and Ryan Verdugo.  I bring up the latter two only because they had very, very, very outside shots at making the bullpen.  Adcock will almost surely start in Omaha, by the way, and might be number one in line to get a call-up if an injury occurs early in the season.   For Myers the only question this spring was where he goes, Omaha or NW Arkansas?   Consensus seems to be the south, but I kind of have a hunch that maybe Omaha might be his destination, especially if Jarrod Dyson makes the big league roster.


Neither Aaron Crow or Felipe Paulino did a whole lot to help themselves last night, so the door is open today for Danny Duffy – dominant his first time out – to stake a deeper claim on the two open rotation positions.  I am and have been a ‘Duffy guy’ since he started out striking out just about everyone in Low A ball, so count me squarely in his camp when it comes to this battle.

If the Royals are hell bent on not losing Luis Mendoza (remember, he is out of options) than I really believe the proper move is Duffy and Paulino in the rotation, Mendoza and Crow in the bullpen.   Paulino has a nightmarish performance record as a reliever, so I don’t see the point of putting him back in that role.  If he continues to flounder through spring training and carries that into three or four April starts, then you pull Paulino out of the rotation and go to Mendoza, but I don’t think you make that move any sooner than that.




That is the latest tweet from Danny Duffy.  It’s cool to have him say it, but let’s not over think it.

Danny Duffy, pitching as a 22 year old rookie last year, posted a 5.64 ERA over 20 starts.  He struck out over seven batters per nine innings, but walked almost four and one-half.   It was a typical, choppy, rookie season.   It was not bad enough to get the organization discouraged, but not good enough to lock Duffy in as a member of the 2012 starting rotation.

For fun (and to kill time in the week before the most anticipated spring training opening game in eight years), I thought it might be fun to see what some truly great pitchers did in their rookie seasons.   Using Baseball Reference’s career WAR leaders as a starting point, I eliminated pitchers who threw before 1950.  I mean, how do you compare anyone to Cy Young, who threw147 innings as a rookie and 423 the next year?  Or to Walter Johnson who, between the ages of 19 and 31, never posted an ERA above 2.22?

At any rate, taking the career WAR leaders and eliminating the ‘old guys’, let’s have a look at the rookie years of the remainder of the top twenty.

  • Roger Clemens (128.4 WAR) – As a 21 year old rookie, Clemens posted a decent 4.32 ERA over 20 starts, striking out 8.5/9 and walking just 2.0/9.  His 9.9 hits per nine innings that year was a career high.
  • Tom Seaver (105.3 WAR) – At age 22, Tom was truly Terrific.  Over 251 innings, he posted a 2.76 ERA.  In fact, from his rookie 1967 season all the way through 1978, Seaver posted ONE season with an earned run average over three. 
  • Greg Maddux (96.8 WAR) – The Professor threw 31 innings at age twenty in 1986, but in his true rookie campaing at age 21, Maddux threw up an unsightly 5.61 ERA over 27 starts.   The next year?  Just 249 innings with an ERA of 3.18, due in no small part to walking a full batter and one-half less than in his rookie season.  
  • Phil Neikro (96.8 WAR) – I can draw no comparison here, as Neikro spent his first four years splitting time between relief and starting.   That includes 1967 when Neikro started 20 games, relieved in 26 more and threw 207 innings to the tune of a 1.87 ERA.  Is that the best ‘swing man’ season in baseball history?
  • Gaylord Perry (96.3) – Like Neikro, Gaylord started just 56 of his first 135 major league appearances.  It didn’t keep him from throwing 206 and 195 innings in back to back years despite being just a part-time starter.   He posted an ERA north of four in three of his first four seasons.
  • Warren Spahn (93.4) – Spahn threw 15 innings at age 21, went to war for three years and then came back to post an ERA 2.94 in 125 innings in what was a delayed rookie campaign. 
  • Randy Johnson (91.8) – At age twenty-four, Johnson threw an impressive 26 innings (25 strikeouts, 2.42. ERA), but in his true rookie season he was not nearly as effective: 160 innings, 4.82 ERA, 7.3K/9 and 5.4 BB/9.   Beginning the next year (1990), Johnson was on his way to being…well..Randy Johnson.
  • Bert Blyleven (90.1) – Came up at age nineteen to throw 164 innings with a 3.18 ERA.   The following six seasons all came with an ERA of three or below and a silly, crazy amount of innings.   Men were men back then, boys.
  • Bob Gibson (85.6) – Here’s a fun one.   Gibson, at age 23, threw 75 innings (9 starts/4 relief) with a decent 3.33 ERA.  However, Gibson walked 4.6/9 and struck out just 5.7/9.  The following year (1960), he posted a 5.61 ERA in 87 innings split between starting and relieving.  Even in 1961, when Gibson began to be a bonafide front-line starter, he was still walking over five batters per nine innings.   From 1962 on, of course, Gibson was a force, but it took him the better part of 350 innings to become that.
  • Nolan Ryan (84.8) – We’ll ignore three innings in 1966 and instead start in 1968 when Nolan was twenty-one.  Despite walking five batters every nine innings, Ryan posted a 3.09 ERA over 134 innings.   The following three seasons were, dare we say it, Jonathan Sanchez-ish:  lots of strikeouts, lots of walks, not many hits and so-so numbers (especially for the era).  Ryan moved to California in 1972 (age 25)  and was that guy from then on.
  • Steve Carlton (84.8) – In 1965 at age twenty, Carlton threw 25 innings.  He tossed 52 the next year and 193 in 1967.  It didn’t matter, Carlton was good from day one and continued to be so until he reached age 41.
  • Fergie Jenkins (81.3) – Baseball was different not so long ago.  At age 23, a rookie Jenkins started just 12 games, but appeared in 61 total and threw 187 innings! His ERA was a solid 3.32 and the peripheral numbers virtually identical to those he would post in the next six seasons.  You know, the six seasons in a row where Jenkins won twenty games.

None of the above really tells us anything about what we might expect from Danny Duffy, but it does show you that great pitchers sometimes take time to develop.  Probably, Danny Duffy won’t end up on the top twenty list for career WAR amongst pitchers, so it would hold true that good (as opposed to great) pitchers are probably even more likely to struggle early in their career.

Even if Duffy finds himself back in Omaha in 2012, it does not foretell doom for his future or for the Royals as a whole.  It would be nice, though, if Danny Duffy’s legacy as a Royal…hell, let’s just say it…a Royal great begins in 2012.

Bury me a Royal?   Why not?


The catchers and pitchers (well, all of them with working visas, anyway) have reported to camp in Surprise, Arizona and it won’t be too terribly long now before we have actual baseball games to evaluate and battles for roster spots will move from winter time speculation to spring time results.

While the Royals’ starting rotation is generally considered as one of the weakest units on the team, it is one that is still relatively set heading into spring ball.  Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen and Jonathan Sanchez are all locks to open the season in the rotation, while Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy are heavy favorites to be the fourth and fifth members of the group.

Ah, the fifth starter.  While it is often true that teams open the season with just four starters on their roster due to off-days early April, the Royals will have no such luxury this year.

Beginning with Opening Day in Anaheim versus the Angels on April 6th, Kansas City will play six straight games.   That means that a fifth starter will be needed on April 10th: day five of the season.   Assuming Luke Hochevar is the number one man, he will make his second start of 2012 on April 11th and the Royals will have an off-day on Thursday the 12th.   They then play six more games starting on Friday the 13th (Opening Day at the K).

Should the club choose to utilize off-days to get their top pitchers more starts – something I am not sure should or need to be done given this team lacks a true get-him-on-the-mound-as-much-as-possible guy at the front of the rotation – they could bring Hochevar back in the number five starter’s spot on April 16th.   Even then, however, the fifth starter would be needed the very next day.

Another off-day comes on Thursday, April 19th and provides the team an opportunity to bump the rotation again, bringing back Hochevar AND Chen (or whomever is the number two starter) on normal rest before having to go the fifth starter again.  Still, the respite is temporary as the schedule demans a fifth starter on April 24th.   After that, Kansas City embarks on a string of twenty games in twenty days and the five man rotation will be in full effect.

As we can see, this season’s schedule requires a fifth starter three times in the first 18 days.  Not only will the Royals be required to carry the fifth man from basically day one, but they will have little opportunity to use him in any role but as a starter.   Let’s say Danny Duffy is the fifth starter, he cannot pitch in relief in the first four games of the year, then starts game five and has to come back exactly one week later and then a week after that.   While there is extended rest between all of his starts, the period is not long enough for Ned Yost to comfortably insert Duffy into a game out of the pen in between.

Now, given that Duffy might have a bit of an inning’s limitation this year, having three starts by April 24th as compared to Hochevar’s five makes a lot of sense.    Duffy threw 147 innings between AAA and the Majors in 2011, so conventional baseball wisdom says he maxes out at 175 or so this year.     Chances are, Duffy doesn’t get much beyond that even without skipping starts, but having a couple less in April probably doesn’t hurt.

Of course, if you are talking innings limited guys, the Royals could give the five spot to Aaron Crow.   They could use the three early April starts as an extended look at what he might do as a starter, let Duffy get tuned up in Omaha and make a real decision about who they want to go with in late April.   Should he succeed as a starter, Crow will be under a real innings crunch, so any starts saved will be useful.

The third legitimate contender for this spot is the out of options Luis Mendoza.  It is hard to ignore what he did in the hit happy PCL last year, but equally hard to forget how truly, truly awful he was in the majors the year before.   Still, a good spring by Mendoza might intrigue the Royals enough (not to mention that both Dayton Moore and Ned Yost have expressed a fear of losing Luis without seeing what they’ve got) to go with him in the five spot. 

I am a huge advocate of Danny Duffy continuing his development in the major leagues.  I am not sure that the problems Danny encountered as a rookie can get solved by doing anything but pitching to major league hitters.   That said, a couple of tune-up starts in Omaha to start the year while the Royals figure out where they are going in early April would do little harm.  

It will be interesting to see how Kansas City handles the rotation battle this spring, but you now know one thing:  they will need a fifth starter immediately.    The luxury of saving the roster spot decision for later in April is not one the Royals enjoy this year.


Who is DannyDuffy?

Is he the twenty-two year old who entered 2011 as the 68th best prospect in all of baseball?   The guy who obliterated minor league competition, striking out 407 batters in just 350 innings?   The guy who allowed just seven hits per nine innings and less than three walks per nine?

Or is he the twenty-two year old who could not get the third strike against major league hitters?  The guy who allowed almost four and one-half walks per nine innings, struck out just over seven batters per nine and was tagged for 119 hits in just 105 innings of major league work?

What we currently know about Danny Duffy is that he has marvelous pure stuff.   His major league fastball averaged over 93 mph and touched 95 easily.  He brings a big curve, at times devastating and a decent changeup.   He is a pitcher who got two strikes against batters more often than C.J. Wilson did and who probably was somewhat unlucky given that his xFIP of 4.53 was considerably better than the 5.64 earned run average that will forever reside on the back of his baseball card.

Who is Danny Duffy?  Is he a future top of the rotation guy like Tom Glavine?

Glavine was, stuff wise, a far different type of pitcher than Duffy is, but in the low minors he was a guy who averaged more than a strikeout per inning and saw his walk rate rise as he rose through the minors.   He broke into the majors at the age of 21, making nine starts in 1987 and was simply awful (5.54 ERA, 5.9 BB/9, 3.6 K/9).   Glavine was only slightly better in 1988:  starting 34 games at the age of 22, throwing 195.1 innings, walking 2.9/9, but striking out just 3.9/9 on his way to a pedestrian 4.56 ERA.   

In 1989, Glavine shaved nearly a full run of his ERA and his walk rate fell to its lowest mark of his minor and major league career.   He regressed some in 1990, but still threw 214 innings and then, in 1991 won the Cy Young Award.   He finished second in the Cy Young voting in 1992 and third in 1993 and was basically a number one/number two type (probably not an ace) pitcher for more than a decade.

Who is Danny Duffy?  Is he John Danks?

Danks also broke into the majors at age 22, starting 26 games and allowing 160 hits and 28 home runs over just 139 innings.  Danks finished that 2007 season with an ERA of 5.50, an xFIP of 4.76, a walk rate of 3.5/9 and a strikeout rate of 7.1/9.   For his minor league career, Danks had struck out 9.2 batters per nine innings and walked 3.3.

As a 23 year old in 2008, John started 33 games, threw 195 innings and posted an ERA of 3.32 (xFIP 3.82).   While his strikeout rate was basically unchanged (and has remained unchanged in the three seasons since), Danks dropped his walk rate considerably in 2008, down to 2.6/9.   What Danks really did, however, was keep the ball in the park and, after being tagged for 10.4 hits per 9 innings as rookie, held it under 8.5/9 from 2008 through 2010.

I view John Danks as marginal number two/solid number three starter who has a chance to become even better.   At age 26, he has already contributed 16.3 career fWAR to the White Sox, gobbled up just under 1,000 innings and started 150 games.  The Royals could do a lot worse than have Danny Duffy become their John Danks.

Of course, maybe Danny Duffy is Randy Wolf.

Wolf emerged on the major league scene in 1999 at, you guessed it, the tender age of twenty-two.   In the minors, Wolf had struck out just under a batter per inning and had a career walk rate in 344 innings of 2.9/9.  He appeared in 22 games as a rookie, starting 21 and while his strikeout rate held, Randy walked five batters for every nine innings he pitched on his way to a 5.55 ERA  and a 5.14 FIP (he’s old enough that xFIP is not available at Fangraphs).

As a full-time rotation member in 2000, Wolf threw 206 innings, posting rates of 7.0K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 and shaved well over a run off his ERA down to 4.36 with a roughly equal FIP of 4.46.  The following season, Wolf’s strikeout rate went back up to his minor league levels, his walk rate dropped below three and his ERA and FIP dipped in the threes.

Over his 13 major league seasons, Randy Wolf has thrown 2,110 innings with an ERA of 4.09, an ERA+ of 103, a FIP of 4.34 and given his combined teams 24 WAR.  Injuries have been a bit of an issue and Wolf has thrown 190 innings or more seven times.  In 2009, at age thirty-two, Wolf had probably his best season and has since pitched over 210 innings in each of the last three years.

What is Randy Wolf?  A number three/four type starter?  Is that Danny Duffy’s destiny?

Or is Danny Duffy the next incarnation of  Kyle Lohse?

Guess how old Kyle Lohse was when he broke into the majors:  yeah, twenty-two.  Coming off a minor league campaign that saw Lohse strike out almost nine batter per nine innings and walk less than two per nine, Kyle was tagged for a 5.68 ERA (5.16 FIP) in his first 90 major league innings.  His strikeout rate fell to 6.4/9 (and frankly has never really come back) and his walk rate jumped up to almost 3 per 9 innings.

Lohse came back in 2002, threw 181 innings with an ERA of 4.23 (xFIP 4.72), which began a string of four seasons as a full-time member of the Twins’ starting rotation that would see him compile 9.3 WAR over that time.   Lohse has been better in the National League, but up and down enough to occasionally find himself in the minors.   Over 11 seasons and with 4 teams, Kyle has tossed 1,762 innings with an ERA+ of 94 and a career ERA of 4.64 and an xFIP of 4.51.   Lohse is your classic number four/five starter who every once in a while has a season where he becomes a solid mid-rotation guy.   He’s given his teams a combined 21 WAR over his career.

We would all be disappointed if we reach the next decade and Danny Duffy has given a Kyle Lohse like career, but it could be worse.

Danny Duffy could be the next Chris George.

At age 19, George had a very good season for High-A Wilmington.  He threw 145 innings, struck 142, allowed just under a hit per inning and walked 3.3 batter per nine frames.   The Royals moved him to AA at age twenty, where George was pretty good:  3.14 ERA in 97 innings.  He walked over four batter per nine, but struck out 7.4.   It was enough to push Chris up to AAA the same year and earn him status as the 21st best prospect in the game.   The following season, George started 20 games for AAA Omaha:  posting a 3.53 ERA and allowing just 103 hits over 117 innings despite seeing his strikeout rate drop to 6.4/9 while his walk rate continued to hover around four.

Those AAA stats were enough to earn Chris George his major league debut the same season (2001) at age twenty-one.   George started 13 games, threw 74 innings, struck out just 32 and floundered to a 5.59 ERA.  George was no better in six starts in 2002.  He was exceptionally awful (I mean worse than Kyle Davies at his worst!) in 93 innings in 2003, walking 44, striking out 39 and giving up 22 home runs and somehow managed to be worse in 42 innings of work the following season.  Chris George has not sniffed the major leagues since and racked up over 1,200 AAA innings in six organizations and Mexico.

I don’t think Danny Duffy is Chris George.   God, I hope he’s not Chris George.

Five different pitchers, five different career paths and while the styles vary, it is quite possible to envision Danny Duffy turning in any of the above careers.   I personally believe that Duffy will improve dramatically in 2012 and might well become a legitimate number two starter by the beginning of 2013.   To do that, Duffy needs to pitch in the majors, not Omaha, and continue the learning process of what it takes to put away major league hitters after getting ahead in the count.   That is, as we have discussed here before, a skill I don’t think he can acquire getting the Paulo Orlandos of the world to chase out of the zone fastballs in a 1-2 count.

The Royals, I believe, are convinced that Duffy is a major part of their future, but may not be sold that he is a lock for their 2012 rotation.   Maybe they are right and quite possibly, right or wrong, more AAA time for Duffy in 2012 likely won’t do any long term damage to his overall career.  

My preference, obviously, is for Duffy to get 32 major league starts in 2012.   Maybe then, we will be able to answer the ‘Who is Danny Duffy?’ equation.





While some might like Wins Above Replacement level (WAR) to be that magic ‘one stat’ that tells us which player is more valuable than another, it is not.  Brett Gardner is a fine player, but his fWAR (Fangraphs) was basically the same as that of Albert Pujols this season.  That does not mean that WAR is useless, just that it is not the ONLY stat when it comes to evaluating players.

That said, WAR is a very good tool.   For position players, it attempts to consolidate hitting, baserunning and fielding into a tidy little package that gives us a general idea of his overall value.   It is not a fail safe option when calculating team wins.  

In 2011, Kansas City compiled a total team fWAR of 39.1 and won 71 games.   Chicago had 40.3 total fWAR and won 79, while Cleveland totalled up just 30.1 fWAR yet won 80 games.  If you want to know how many fWAR your roster needs to contribute to get 94 wins, I can probably find you 15 different answers…in the last five years.   Like I said at the beginning, WAR (be it fWAR or bWAR or some other WAR…good god, y’all) is not the be all and end all of the statistical world.

Here is what I know, if you want to win the A.L. Central, you have to have more fWAR than the other four teams.    Detroit won 95 games the division in 2011 with an fWAR of 48.5 (8.2 better than anyone else).   Minnesota won in 2010 with 94 wins and a fWAR of 49.7 (6 better than Detroit and 6.7 better than Chicago).  Minnesota only won 87 games in 2009, but it was enough to take the Central and their 41.2 cumulative fWAR was 4 better than second place Detroit.

How many fWAR will it take to win the Central?  I don’t know.   How many will it take to win 92 games?  I don’t know.   What I do know, is that the Royals are almost certain to need more than last year’s 39.1.   If you take my approach of last week that Kansas City should not make any drastic off-season moves (unless someone drops a gem in their lap), then what are the possibilities for the current roster to improve on last year’s mark?

Let’s start with the position players, who provided 25.6 fWAR in 2011.   Alex Gordon (6.9), Melky Cabrera (4.2) and Jeff Francoeur (2.9) accounted for 14 of that total.   All three played everyday, Gordon and Cabrera set career high marks and Francoeur had his highest fWAR since 2007.   Kansas City also got 1.1 fWAR from Mitch Maier, Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain.   If you believe the Royals’ outfield will total 15.1 fWAR again next year, then I have some start-up tech company stock to sell you.

Almost universally, people think it is far more likely that Alex Gordon is more likely to sustain his 2011 performance than Melky Cabrera.   You can count me among them, although I readily admit there is not any real logical reason to have such a clear cut division on two players of basically similar age.   Kansas City can afford to have Melky falter, but they cannot make up for a big Gordon drop-off.   Simply put, if Alex Gordon is a 2.3 fWAR player next year, the Royals are going nowhere.   I don’t think he will drop that far, but I also cannot see Gordon, Cabrera, Francoeur and Cain posting 15.1 fWAR in 2012, either.

Let’s set the outfield aside for a moment and look at three other positions:  third, first and DH.   Billy Butler was the Royals’ everyday DH and provided 1.8 fWAR – the lowest total in three years.   Hosmer provided 1.6 fWAR which we will use to quantify the first base position.  (Without getting too crazy, we know that Ka’aihue provided no value at first – fWAR speaking – and Butler played there when one of the outfielder’s took a half day and DH’d – it’s not exact, but close enough for this rough review).   At third, the Royals got 0.7 fWAR from Moustakas and 0.5 from Wilson Betemit for a total of 1.2.  All told, these three positions contributed 4.6 fWAR last season.

Hosmer is, well he HAS TO BE, the real deal.   It seems as though the question is not ‘will Hosmer progress in 2012?’, but instead is ‘how much will he progress?’.     In addition, Moustakas seemed to ‘get it’ as the season wore on and while he is not a lock to improve, I would say the odds are decent that he will.   I would also expect improvement from Butler, who probably won’t spend the first three months of the season being put off about not getting to play first base.

Is it realistic to say the the outfielder, corner infielders and designated hitter can contribute the same 19.7 fWAR as they did in 2011?  Certainly, the contributions might be weighted more heavily to the infielders than the outfielders in 2012, but I can envision Hosmer, Moustakas, Butler making up the difference from the expected regression (hopefully minor) of the three everyday outfielders.

If so, then the Royals would be looking to Alcides Escobar (2.2 fWAR), the catchers (2.9 fWAR total in 2011) and second base (1.1 fWAR total) to hold the line.   Salvador Perez, who provided 1.4 fWAR himself, might be hard pressed to get to 2.9 in his first full season as a regular, but one can hope that Escobar might hit just a little more and that second base might add a little more as well (not exactly sure how, but we can hope).

At any rate, all of the above considered, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Royals’ position players could contribute close to their 2011 output.  If they do that, then the pitchers need to hold up their end of the bargain.   Wow!  I bet you didn’t see that coming did you?

In 2011, the Royals’ pitching staff contributed a pretty awful 13.5 fWAR.   Felipe Paulino and Jeff Francis each contributed 2.6, Luke Hochevar 2.3, Greg Holland 2.0 and Bruce Chen 1.7 (remember, throwing innings is big part of fWAR for starters and Chen threw just 155).   Joakim Soria chipped in 0.9 fWAR, the lowest of his career (his previous marks were 2.4, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0).    Those pitchers right there get you to 12.1 of the 13.5 fWAR total.

Danny Duffy’s 0.6 is cancelled out by Sean O’Sullivans -0.5.   Kyle Davies, yes KYLE FREAKING DAVIES, provided 0.7 fWAR which was cancelled out by the negative contributions of Vin Mazzaro, Jesse Chavez and Robinson Tejeda.   WAR, in any form, really does not think much of relief pitchers – which points out how good Greg Holland was in 2011 – and as such, Louis Coleman gets a skinny 0.1, Aaron Crow 0.3 and Blake Wood 0.4.   I do believe that WAR undervalues the contributions of a relief pitcher, especially a non-closer, but that is a debate for another time.

Let’s get back to the starting rotation.   We pretty much know that Hochevar, Paulino and Duffy will be in the 2012 rotation.   Can they better their combined 5.5 fWAR?  To begin with, baseball history is full of young pitchers who are not very good as rookies and take a big step forward in year two.   I think Danny Duffy is likely to do the same.   I am not saying his going to become an ace, but it is reasonable (albeit hardly a sure thing) that he could become a 2.5 fWAR pitcher in 2012.   If Paulino can give the Royals another 2.5 fWAR and Hochevar finally, FINALLY, put it all together and become a 3.5 fWAR guy, the Royals could have 8.5 fWAR out of just three starters – that’s not horrible.  Problem is, that is just one win more than Francis, Paulino and Hochevar gave them last year.

Now what? 

Does bringing back Bruce Chen give you another two wins?  After that, can the number five spot, in combination with the spot starts and injury fill-ins from other starters, get you a ‘barely-head-above-water’ 0.5 fWAR?  You would certainly hope for better, but I am not sure logic will back us up on that one.  Let’s say that Kansas City does gleen 2.5 fWAR total out of the number four through eight starters.    Now, you are at 11 fWAR heading into the bullpen.

Can Joakim Soria bounce back?  If he can, Soria is probably good for 2.0 fWAR.   Then you have Greg Holland coming off a terrific year, Louis Coleman and Tim Collins (0.0 fWAR by the way) setting him up.   Combined, those three accounted for 2.1 fWAR in 2011, you have to get at least that much again in 2012.   Now, the Royals are at 15.1 fWAR out of their staff with the back of bullpen coming into play.   Basically, there was an entire negative win contributed by a bunch of arms last year, which is not uncommon, but it would be nice to avoid.   If the Royals would somehow not have the negative numbers and get another win out of Wood, Herrera, Crow (?) et.al. would that translate into a net gain of 2.0 fWAR?  Maybe….maybe just.

If the above scenario played out, Kansas City would have 17.1 fWAR from their pitchers and another 26 from the position players for a total of 43.1.   Would that translate into a division title?  That is hard to tell, but it almost certainly would get the Royals around or above .500, maybe even into the high 80’s in wins. 

In my opinion, getting an eight at the front of your win total and hoping for some luck and good breaks in 2012 is better than stretching to make a risky deal in a skinny off-season market.   I would rather the Royals shop for that one arm to put them over the top coming off an 84 win 2012 campaign than to do so now, coming off a 71 win season.




Tuesday night was our last chance to see Danny Duffy throw this year. With the rookie approaching 150 innings on the season between Omaha and Kansas City – Duffy’s career high and most since he threw 126 in High-A ball in 2009 – the Royals rightly decided to shut him down for the rest of September. As a final start, it was a good one, I suppose. Although it was decidedly Duffy…

6.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO

Modest strikeout numbers, but one suspects it could (and should) have been higher… Too many walks… Managable hit total… And he pitched into the seventh inning for just the fourth time in 20 starts.

His Game Score was 54, which was tied for his fourth highest score of the year. Overall, not a bad performance for the swan song of ’11.

Since this was to be Duffy’s final start in 2011, I guess Ned Yost figured he’d throw away the pitch count clicker (or whatever they use to track pitches in the dugout.) Entering Tuesday’s game, Duffy had surpassed 100 pitches in a start just seven times with his high-water mark coming in a start against Detroit in early August when he tossed 105 pitches. Frankly, the Royals and Yost did a good job of managing the young pitcher. For some reason, Duffy was back in the game in the seventh even though he had matches his career high for pitches through six full frames.

It was Hillman-esque.

Sorry, I just don’t see the reasoning behind letting a young starter begin an inning after he’d thrown 105 pitches. Especially somone like Duffy, who has shown an extreme tendency to nibble at times and has had extreme difficulty managing his pitch count. Unless you’re willing to let him throw 130 pitches, why bother in that situation? And more importantly, why do you handle him in a particular manner for 19 starts, but suddenly decide to change the plans for start 20?

If we know anything about Duffy’s 2011 season, one of his goals for next year should be to pace himself during each start. His velocity map from last night’s start is a prime example where he hit his peak velocity in the second inning. From that point on, he had difficulty consistently matching his speeds from his first two frames.

I’ve written about it before, but I’ll say it again… I do think Duffy can figure out how to accomplish this. The reason is, although he was unable to match his velocity of his first 40 pitches with his final 80, he did settle into a groove where he was throwing a consistent 92 mph. Even with a season-high number of pitches. Seems to me that it’s just a matter of maturity and strength for him to build the kind of repitoire where he can maintain something close to a peak velocity for an entire start.

Of course, Duffy will also have to figure out how to cut down on the walks. His final tally on the season was 4.4 BB/9 which is just way too high. Had he thrown enough innings to qualify, that mark would be the highest among starting pitchers in both leagues. Again, that goes back to his tendency to nibble. It just seemed like he’d get two strikes on the batter, and then he’d abandon his aggressive game plan that got him to that point in the count for something a little more… tricky, I guess. Like a called third strike on the corner was what he was fishing for in that situation. No clue why.

Overall, although his first season in the big leagues wasn’t what we expected, Duffy has certainly shown some promise. I’m more than comfortable with him in the front end of the rotation for 2012 and beyond.



Who hates the Yankees? Me! A couple of notes from last night’s marathon loss.

— Obviously, the Yankees are poised for another October run, but color me unimpressed with their starting pitching. Ivan Nova and AJ Burnett just don’t look like they should be in the rotation of a team with post season dreams. But when you’re scoring 5.4 runs per game, I suppose you can live with that. Plus, it seems like Girardi has his bullpen rotation down. He’s gone Logan, Soriano, Robertson and Rivera – in that order – both nights of the series.

— It stinks that seven runs isn’t enough.

— I loved the Ned Yost ejection in the fourth inning. One of my favorite things is baseball is when the manager makes a visit to the mound, not to talk with his pitcher, but to give the home plate umpire and earful when he comes to break up the meeting.

At this point in Tuesday’s game, Danny Duffy was hot. He was getting battered around by the Yankee lineup like speed bag and on top of that, he was getting squeezed by home plate umpire Kerwin Danley. Let’s be honest… Danley was awful behind the plate. Here is how MLB Gameday charted Duffy’s pitches to Russell Martin in the second inning:

I’m not entirely sure what Duffy had to do to get the low strike. I’m sure that was on his mind in the fourth when he didn’t get a borderline call against Mark Teixeira on what would have been strike three. (To be fair, Duffy was lucky the plate appearance got that far. His first pitch was a fat, juicy hanging curve that Teixeira was out in front of and yanked foul. Yanked is the wrong word… He crushed that pitch.)

Anyway, Duffy is frustrated and you could see it. Yost comes out to give his starter the pep talk and uses the opportunity to give Danley a piece of his mind as the two were walking off the mound and gets run. Loved it. Yost was out there protecting his pitcher. Duffy thought he was getting squeezed, was getting hacked off (you could see it in his body language) and that was good enough for his manager. I know I criticize Yost a ton, but that was necessary and perfect.

— Danley’s zone was awfully tight. I know we’re not supposed to take these charts as gospel, but it sure looks like he missed a ton of pitches that were in the zone.

— Duffy struggled in a way we haven’t seen recently. He threw a total of 90 pitches and got just three swing and misses.

Of course, the back breaker was the 12 pitch at bat to Robinson Cano immediately following the Yost ejection that culminated with the ball leaving the yard. Cano fouled off four consecutive fastballs, two sliders and another fastball before he crushed a flat slider that was about belt high.

— With summer winding down, it seems like I spend a ton of time in the car, so I’ll tune into the opposing team’s radio broadcast to see what they’re saying about the Royals. Sometimes, I’ll really enjoy the rival announcers. (Plus, I need relief during the third, fourth, sixth and seventh innings… Why, those are Bob Davis’ innings!) Other times, I revel in the train wreck of awfulness. As huge as the Yankees are, you would think they would have a decent announcing tandem. You would think wrong. Things I learned listening to the Yankee broadcast, courtesy of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman:

1- Alex Gordon has a “awful” arm in left field. Yes, Sterling actually said this. They then discussed how this was possible given he used to play third base, and you would think a third baseman would have a strong arm.

2 – Joakim Soria has been “horrible” this year and has been on the DL twice. Twice. I don’t know… I follow the Royals fairly closely, so it comes as a complete shock to me that I missed the Soria transactions. Besides, while it has been far from Soria’s best season, but horrible seems to be a strong adjective. He has a 2.22 ERA since June 1 with 27 strikeouts in 28 innings.

Anyway, they used the Soria character assassination as a springboard to discuss the greatness of Mariano Rivera.

3 – Both Sterling and Waldman spend half their time clearing their throat. Jeez… Invest in a lozenge or something.

— Finally, the Royals are now 4-11 in the month of August. They have scored 58 runs (3.9 R/G) and allowed 71 (4.7 R/G). Their .309 OBP this month is their worst mark of the season. Remember, OBP is life…

On to the pitchers…

We know the starters have, taken as a whole, been horrible. And we know the bullpen has been one of the strengths of this team. I don’t know how the rotation can improved in the second half. Aside from Danny Duffy, these guys pretty much are who we thought they were. Which is not good.

The bullpen, on the other hand, has overachieved. Many of the relievers have outperformed their xFIP and have incredible batting averages on balls in play and even more incredible strand rates. That points to the volatility of the bullpen. It’s still a strength of this team, but I’m not certain it will be as strong in the second half.

One area where you notice the chasm is in strikeouts. The Royals starters couldn’t pitch their way out of a paper bag. (When I talk about the “starters,” know that I’m excluding Duffy. He’s the Chosen One adrift in a sea of batting practice pitchers.) Meanwhile, the bullpen is full of flame throwers who have made missing bats a habit. There may be some regression to the bullpen mean in the second half, but the strikeouts will cushion the blow.

Luke Hochevar
2.9 BB/9, 4.6 SO/9, 5.46 ERA, 4.22 xFIP
0.6 WAR

Key Stat: Allowing opponents to hit .300/.379/.461 with runners on base.

I don’t know if it’s fair to call Hochevar “frustrating.” That would imply we have expectations that he could actually be… good.

Instead, we’re teased with a pitcher who retires three or six or nine batters in a row and then implodes in a spectacular fashion. Read that key stat again… there’s something happening when Hochevar pitches from the stretch. Even more frustrating, when runners reach base, Hochevar slows to the game to a speed that resembles Billy Butler running the 100 yard dash… Stand. Still.

I read somewhere that the KC Star’s Sam Mellinger thought Hochevar is a victim of heightened expectations that come with being the team’s Opening Day (read, number one) starter. I just can’t buy into this theory. Mainly because I haven’t thought about Hochevar as the Opening Day starter since… Opening Day. I mean, even Hochevar has to know he was the “number one” starter only because there wasn’t anyone else.

Grade: D

Jeff Francis
1.7 BB/9, 4.4 SO/9, 4.60 ERA, 4.01 xFIP
1.8 WAR

Key Stat: His average fastball is 85 mph.

Francis was always one of the softer throwers in the game, but he’s lost a couple mph off his alleged fastball since returning from shoulder surgery. Having said that, he’s compensating by featuring the best control of his career. The issue with Francis – and it will always be an issue – is that when he catches too much of the plate, it’s easy for opposing batters to make solid contact. His line drive rate hovers around 20% and his BABIP is always north of .300, meaning his WHIP will always be elevated, even though his walks are under control.

Despite the warts, he’s having a pretty decent season.

Grade: B-

Bruce Chen
3.0 BB/9, 5.6 SO/9, 3.26 ERA, 4.37 xFIP
0.7 WAR

Key Stat: Chen has a 76.5% strand rate.

If you’re looking for a reason for Chen’s solid ERA, look no further than his strand rate. It’s about three percentage points better than his career rate. If he regresses to the mean, the second half could be a bit bumpy, but given the way he’s turned his career around, I’m not certain I would bet against him.

Bringing Chen back for 2011 was a good piece of business by Dayton Moore.

Grade: B

Kyle Davies
4.0 BB/9, 6.3 SO/9, 7.74 ERA, 4.78 xFIP
0.2 WAR

Key Stat: Has thrown three quality starts in 11 overall starts. The Royals have lost all three of those games.


Grade: F

Sean O’Sullivan
4.4 BB/9, 3.0 SO/9, 6.92 ERA, 5.59 xFIP
-0.5 WAR

Key Stat: His 0.69 SO/BB ratio is the worst rate among pitchers who have started more than five games this season.

Double dreadful.

Grade: F

Danny Duffy
4.3 BB/9, 7.3 SO/9, 4.85 ERA, 4.20 xFIP
0.0 WAR

Key Stat:

Duffy is just a few adjustments away from moving to the front of the rotation. Really. It all comes down to location and an economy of pitches. These are things he can adjust. The successes have been there… there will be more in the near future.

Grade: C

Aaron Crow
4.2 BB/9, 9.1 SO/9, 2.08 ERA, 3.15 xFIP
0.5 WAR

Your 2011 All-Star!

There’s going to be a ton of talk over the next couple of months about moving Crow into the rotation. Personally, I’m on the record saying that everyone from the bullpen should be given a shot at starting. Seriously, the rotation is dreadful so something needs to be done.

Now, having said that, I don’t think that Crow will ever transition back to the rotation. Part of my reasoning has to do with his performance this season. He’s walking too many guys to be a middle of the rotation starter. Also, his success this year is built around an unsustainable 90% strand rate. Then, there’s also his track record from the minors. Don’t forget, he was demoted as a starter after getting raked to the tune of a 5.66 ERA in Double-A. He followed that with a 5.93 ERA in Single-A. Yikes.

Crow seems to have found his groove as a reliever and has emerged as a dependable set-up man. Why mess with a formula that’s been successful?

Grade: A-

Tim Collins
6.6 BB/9, 7.7 SO/9, 3.74 ERA, 4.86 xFIP
-0.1 WAR

Key Stat: Lefties are hitting .215/.381/.354 against Collins. Right handers are batting .193/.316/.301.

Collins is an enigma in more ways than one. To start, there’s his reverse split described above. Then, there’s the fact he’s walking a metric ton of batters. No pitcher who has thrown more than 30 innings has a walk rate higher than Collins.

Sadly, those walks are going to catch up with Collins. And that’s probably going to happen in the second half.

Grade: C+

Blake Wood
2.7 BB/9, 8.0 SO/9, 2.89 ERA, 3.08 xFIP
0.4 WAR

Key Stat: Wood is getting a swinging strike in 9.8% of all strikes thrown.

I don’t know how he’s doing it… With a fastball straighter than a piece of dried spaghetti. But Wood has become a dependable reliever out of the bullpen. It helps that his slider is much improved as well. Still, I can’t help but worry… I’m a Royals fan.

Grade: B+

Louis Coleman
4.3 BB/9, 10.9 SO/9, 2.01 ERA, 3.80 xFIP
0.0 WAR

Key Stat: Opponents are hitting .167/.280/.361 against Coleman.

Coleman is off to a great start and has been a versatile arm out of the pen for the club. He’s pitched multiple innings in 12 of his 27 appearances and has thrown anywhere from the sixth inning on. With the lead, in a tie game, or with the Royals down… Yost is using him in just about any situation.

His BABIP is .200 and his strand rate is a whopping 96%. There’s no way he can keep those numbers for the second half. His xFIP suggests he’s had luck on his side.

Grade: A-

Felipe Paulino
2.3 BB/9, 8.9 SO/9, 3.38 ERA, 3.24 xFIP
1.3 WAR

A revelation…

Interesting story… At the Baseball Prospectus event at the K last week, Jin Wong talked about how one of the things his job entails is to identify potential talent. Basically, looking at fringe players and deciding if there’s some upside there. If there is, and that player becomes available, they pounce. According to Wong, the club identified Paulino early in the year as a potential guy for them because he throws 95 mph (on average), strikes out a fair number of hitters and can keep the ball on the ground. So, when Paulino struggled in 18 appearances out of the pen for the Rockies, and they let him go, the Royals were ready.

Great story… You hope it’s true. Paulino has never had an ERA lower – or even close – to his xFIP, so he was always a guy with upside. Good for the Royals for grabbing him off the scrap heap when the Rockies were ready to let him go.

The Royals will need to find a few more gems in the rough like Paulino. Capable middle of the rotation guy.

Grade: B+

Nate Adcock
3.7 BB/9, 5.9 SO/9, 4.91 ERA, 4.11 xFIP
-0.1 WAR

Key Stat: Only 2 of 12 inherited runners have scored against Adcock.

Adcock was the Rule 5 pick and the Royals have been treating him with kid gloves. He completely disappears for extended stretches. Like right now… He last pitched on July 1.

I’d like for the Royals to use him a little more frequently, especially when their starters spit the bit in the early innings. Adcock isn’t doing exceptional, but when you consider he had never pitched above A-ball prior to this year, the Royals have to be pleased with the results.

Grade: C

Greg Holland
2.2 BB/9, 10.8 SO/9, 1.08 ERA, 2.35 xFIP
0.8 WAR

Key Stat: Only 60% of all plate appearances against Holland end with the ball in play.

Many felt Holland should have been in the bullpen at the start of the season. Many were correct. He’s been lights out. Like Crow and Coleman, his strand rate is north of 90%.

Easily, the best reliever in the Royals pen.

Grade: A

Vin Mazzaro
5.5 BB/9, 3.3 SO/9, 9.25 ERA, 5.97 xFIP
-0.1 WAR

Key Stat: The Royals sacrificial lamb.

It is the seminal moment of the 2011 season… Ned Yost leaving Mazzaro to get his brains beat in by the Indians, allowing 14 runs in 2.1 innings.

Grade: F

Jeremy Jeffress
6.5 BB/9, 7.6 SO/9, 4.70 ERA, 4.40 xFIP
0.0 WAR

Key Stat: A 1.50 WHIP in 15 innings of work.

Jeffress has the potential, but until he finds his control, it will remain potential. It’s not going so well in Omaha as he’s walking 6.6 per nine.

Grade: D+

Everett Teaford
3.4 BB/9, 4.0 SO/9, 2.30 ERA, 4.56 xFIP
-0.2 WAR

Key Stat: Has a 100% strand rate.

Teaford is pitching out of his mind. A .195 BABIP and that strand rate… That’s why his xFIP is over two runs higher than his ERA.

Grade: B

Joakim Soria
2.8 BB/9, 7.8 SO/9, 4.03 ERA, 3.57 xFIP
0.2 WAR

I maintained all along that Soria would be OK… It took a “demotion” for him to find his closer mojo. That, and losing one of his cut fastballs.

Whatever, it was an ugly start. Can’t deny that. He’s already matched his career high for home runs allowed (five) and is still down about two whiffs per inning on his strikeout rate. This serves as a cautionary tale that you should never, ever overvalue your closer. Unless his name is Mariano Riveria. Had the Royals dealt Soria last winter, his value would have been at it’s maximum. According to reports, the GMDM is still asking for everything under the sun when teams call inquiring about Soria.

Hopefully, he can pitch lights out in the second half and restore some of that trade value.

Grade: C

Over the break, Dayton Moore made the proclamation that the Royals were still in the race for the AL Central. I had no idea he was an outpatient at the Menninger Clinic. The bats are in decent shape and the bullpen is strong, but the starting pitching will continue to drag this team to what will be a top three pick in next year’s draft.

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