Kansas City Royals Early Season Review

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With the Kansas City Royals crossing the 10% completed mark of the season, a picture of what this team is going to be in 2014 is starting to form.  Much like it was last season, the status quo so far this year has been one of a weak offense relying on solid pitching to carry the Royals to victory while utilizing a strong defense and solid bullpen. Thus far, the Royals pitching staff is sitting second in the AL with a 3.14 ERA.

Coming into the season, much of the noise being made about the Royals deficiencies was in regards to the starting rotation. With Ervin Santana departing Kansas City, many felt they took a step backward when signing Jason Vargas as his apparent replacement. While Vargas does not have the ceiling that Santana has, he is a reliable pitcher who also doesnt have near as low a floor. His pitching style in this young season has played very well into the Royals defense and thus far he has been somewhat of a surprise pitching to a fantastic 1.24 ERA.

What many forgot is that while Vargas is most likely not as good as Santana (though I think still has a chance to put up just as good an ERA), the Royals also went out and solidified the back end of the rotation. For much of last season, the Royals used both Luis Mendoza and Wade Davis in the starting rotation. Yordano Ventura has come along and, his last outing aside, has looked very solid as a member of the starting rotation. He is young and still fights command issues but with a fireball throwing arm, will at the very least be exciting to watch the rest of the year.

Bruce Chen also opened the season this year as a starter, and has been underwhelming. He sports a 6.60 ERA and seems to be getting less reliable every game. He does have 16 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched, which is very un Bruce like, but the sample size is small. I would venture to guess that if he continues to struggle, we may see Danny Duffy flip flop with Chen and ease back into the starter role. Duffy has done about everything he can to earn that chance so far. While he has only pitched 8.1 innings, he has struck out 11 and has yet to allow a run.

The rest of the pitching staff has looked about as expected, buoyed by James Shields (1.91 ERA, 35k, 33 IP) who has pitched very well this year. The bullpen had struggles early in the year, but have seemed to right the ship pitching solid as a group with Duffy providing a reliable bridge to get the game to closer Greg Holland.

Tim Collins and Francisely Bueno are both about ready to come back from the disabled list after being shut down following less than steller performances by each.

If, indeed, Duffy is to be moved to the starting rotation at some point this year, the Royals will need another solid late innings reliever who can be dominant. Kelvin Herrera (2.57 ERA 7K, 7IP) has begun to emerge as a possible candidate for that as he has looked very good in the last several games.

Though the defense has committed 15 errors in 19 games, they have made a number of spectacular plays. Many of the mistakes made early on seemed to be because they were simply trying to make plays they should not be attempting, at least not yet. So far, they look every bit as good as a group, and I would expect them to continue on helping the pitching staff to win close game.

Up Next: Offense

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lukegoosen

Author: lukegoosen

Welcome to Royals Blue!

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