Feeling the Pitch: Royals Pitching Letting the Team Down!

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The Royals pitching is struggling.  There is time to turn it around, but, they'll need to do it fast.

Every season in April I will chat with my dad about the upcoming Royals season.  Even when they were terrible there was a little optimism with the hitting and I’d make my case for how the Royals could make a run if or that went well and if the stars aligned and everyone from every other team got injured and Ken Harvey didn’t spike himself playing first base.

At the end of every conversation my dad would say, “Son, the Royals will go as far as their pitching will take them”.

That is where the Royals currently stand in their quest for one last Blue October with this core group.  They’ll go as far as their pitching will take them.

There are no must-win games in August.  At least that is what I keep telling Royals fans either via social media or in-person.  I still stand by that statement and believe there are no games that they must-win in August.  The goal is to stay close and give yourself and shot in September.  That’s the name of the game in baseball.

However, there is reason for concern with the Royals, and it begins and ends with the pitching.  The Royals don’t have an actual “ace” or a pitcher that can go out every five days and stop a losing streak.  They haven’t had a true ace since the days of Zack Greinke.  However, that also includes 2014 and 2015, when they won the pennant both years and the World Series in the latter, beating a team full of aces.  This year, despite the hype of how this pitching staff was much better even with the tragic loss of Yordano Ventura, the Royals starting staff has not got the job done.  These are the numbers for Royals pitchers going into the game on August 9th:

Jason Vargas (13-6, 3.40 ERA)

Danny Duffy (7-7, 3.48 ERA)

Jason Hammel (5-9, 4.73 ERA)

Ian Kennedy (4-8, 4.83 ERA)

Trevor Cahill (0-0, 7.27 ERA – since joining the Royals)

Here is how the starting five has fared since the All-Star Break:

Jason Vargas (1-3, 6.94 ERA, 6 HR, 12 BB, 17 K)

Danny Duffy (2-2, 2.78 ERA, 3 HR, 4 BB, 26 K)

Jason Hammel (1-1, 3.77 ERA, 2 HR, 5 BB, 19 K)

Ian Kennedy (1-2, 6.08 ERA, 3 HR, 10 BB, 21 K)

Trevor Cahill (0-0, 7.27 ERA – since joining the Royals)

That is the source of the problem.  You cannot have a starting rotation where sixty percent of your pitchers have an ERA of over 6.00 since the All-Star Break.

A fan told me tonight that this reminded him of the 2003 Royals.  Therefore, I decided to look at the second-half pitching of the 2003 Royals compared to the pitching of the 2014 Royals and 2015 Royals.

 

2003 Royals:

Darrell May (6-4, 4.04 ERA)

Runelvys Hernandez (3-2, 7.89 ERA)

Jose Lima (5-1, 3.38 ERA)

Brian Anderson (5-1, 3.99 ERA)

Jimmy Gobble (4-5, 4.61 ERA)

 

2014 Royals:

James Shields (5-3, 2.62 ERA)

Jeremy Guthrie (8-3, 3.50 ERA)

Jason Vargas (3-6, 4.50 ERA)

Yordano Ventura (8-3, 3.18 ERA)

Danny Duffy (4-3, 2.23 ERA)

 

2015 Royals:

Edinson Volquez (5-5, 3.82 ERA)

Yordano Ventura (9-2, 3.56 ERA)

Jeremy Guthrie (4-4, 6.97 ERA)

Danny Duffy (4-4, 3.62 ERA)

Johnny Cueto (4-7, 4.76 ERA)

It should also be pointed out that the 2003 Royals had a worse bullpen than the 2014 or 2015 Royals.  In fact, Mike MacDougal, their closer, only saved three games after the All-Star Break.  While this bullpen is not as good as the 2014 and 2015 Royals bullpen, it is better than the 2003 Royals.  Yet, this staff has a far worse ERA than the 2003 Royals.  If you don’t remember, the 2003 Royals blew a seven-game lead in the division to finish third at 83-79.

The problem has been spotted.  These Royals will have to figure out a way to get better starting pitching to make the postseason.  No pitching means no postseason.

However, as stated earlier, there is still plenty of time to right the ship.  I remember a slumping 2013 Kansas City team go into a home-and-home series with the Cardinals losing the first three games in the series and trailing 2-1 in the ninth.  George Brett had taken over as interim hitting coach and the Royals had lost eight straight.  In stepped a struggling Jeff Francoeur at the plate.  He then sent one into the Royals bullpen to tie the game.  The Royals eventually won the game, 4-2, and went 12-5 over their next seventeen games.

There’s always hope.

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Author: Christopher Till

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