Royals Better Suited with Guthrie in the Rotation

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Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star has noted that the three candidates most likely to find themselves odd man out in the starting rotation once Jason Vargas returns are Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy and Jeremy Guthrie.

Danny Duffy has had a 2.27 ERA in his last 5 starts since returning from the DL, averaging well over 6 innings a start, so for all intents and purposes, lets just rule him out for demotion. It is entirely possibly it could still be Duffy, as he has stated in the past he feels the bullpen suits his game but for a team with playoff aspirations, it would seem foolish to remove arguably your best pitcher over the last month.

So that leaves us with Jeremy Guthrie and Yordano Ventura.

It would seem on the surface as if this isn't even a difficult decision, but I assure you, it is…or at least should be.

How can it be? Guthrie is HORRIBLE! He has the 9th WORST ERA amongst pitchers with at least 70 innings pitched with a 5.36 ERA. He has resided in the bottom 10 amongst qualifying pitchers all year in WAR and is striking out less than 5 batters per 9 innings. His ERA+ is 25% lower than league average and he has a WHIP north of 1.500. When looking at the back of Jeremy Guthrie's baseball card, it would appear he is anything but a valuable pitcher.

But that would be wrong.

What if I told you the Royals were 12-6 in games in which Guthrie starts this year? What if I told you the Royals have won 4 straight in games Guthrie has started? How about 9-4 in the last 13, which includes that 11 run, 1 inning disaster? Well its true.

Quite simply, despite the numbers, Guthrie just wins. 19-13 in Guthrie games last season. 19-14 the year before that.

But how?

Guthrie has never managed to "go low" in terms of ERA while in a Royals uniform. His greatest compliment has pretty much been that he is a decent 5th starter, but despite the numbers, he has actually managed to do better than that. Guthrie is the exception to the rule, but ERA isn't what you should use to decide if he truly is doing his job.

For example, Guthrie has managed to allow 3 runs or less in 10 of his last 13 starts, and 4 runs or less in all but THREE of his starts in 2015.

Let that sink in…only THREE times in games that Jeremy Guthrie has pitched has the other team had more than 4 on the scoreboard after the 5th, 6th or 7th inning.

That may not SEEM like the most impressive of statistics, but it should be appreciated.  Quite simply, when Guthrie is pitching, the Royals almost always have a chance to win the game, and more often than not they do. By keeping the team in every game, he is able to hand off to one of the greatest bullpens of all time with 4 runs or less on the scoreboard. The Royals have only scored 4 runs or more once in games they lost with Guts on the mound.

 So why is his ERA so high if he manages to avoid disaster most of the time?

Those 3 outings that he allowed more than 4 were two outings of 6 runs each and one absolute disaster of a start on May 25th in which he allowed 11 runs and only completed 1 inning. That game alone balloons his ERA of 5.36 by nearly an entire point. On the flip side, he has only managed to allow less than 2 runs twice all season, and has only one scoreless outing. Teams pretty much always score on Jeremy Guthrie, and usually its between 2-4 runs. Combine that with a few stinkers and you have a pitcher ranked among the worst in baseball in ERA.

But Guthrie is dependable. Guthrie started games have a .667 win percentage this year, and Guthrie has been a workhouse for the Royals, eating up inning after inning.

Ventura throws fire! He is electric! HE WAS OUR OPENING DAY STARTER! No WAY you can think we should remove him from the rotation over Guthrie!

Up above, the reason I chose to use 70 innings as the barometer for comparison is because while Guthrie easily qualifies as a starting pitcher, Yordano Ventura does not and only has 72.1 innings pitched so far this year. With suspensions, injury and various other ailments requiring early removal or skipped starts, he has been less than dependable.

During those 72 innings, he has managed to rack up a 4.73 ERA, which is good for the 24th worst ERA amongst pitchers with at least 70 innings pitched. He has not been stellar. On top of not being stellar, the Royals have not been able to count on him this year. When he does pitch, the Royals are 5-8 in games he has taken the bump.

We all trust Jeremy Guthrie. You may not know it, but even when someone needed to start game 7 of the World Series, and we were told it was Guthrie…there was a chuckle sure…but we didn't feel as though it was Kyle Davies taking the mound. Who knows if Ventura would have even made it through the first without having a finger cramp, ingrown toe nail, yelling F-you at the batter…well you get the picture. Who knows with Ventura.

This is certainly not a call to trade, or permanently demote Ventura, but this might not be his season. While he has been a disappointment as a starter, his type of raw "stuff" might play extremely well in an already stacked bullpen.

He is still the leading candidate for being the Royals opening day starter in 2016, and I EXPECT him to get there. Even this year, he very well may be what we all hoped in the second half. There is still plenty of time to come back, and I would almost expect him to, but if you ask me to make a decision today….give me the guy the Royals score runs and win for. Give me the guy who has been there EVERY SINGLE START he was suppose to make and has been a fantastic ambassador for the team.

You want to kick someone out of the rotation…well, it certainly better not be Jeremy Guthrie.


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Author: lukegoosen

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