Friday, March 11, 2005

Pitching Projections

Its fairly hard to tell what's happening in spring training with the dearth of analysis available from the Star and the Royals website, but from a complete outsider's perspective, it looks like some things are starting to take shape. Bob Dutton has a pretty good review of the state of the competition in Surprise today, and Dick Kaegel checks in with the semi-official line on the Royals website.

Bautista has been the story of spring training thus far, displaying wicked stuff and good command with every performance. He'd probably be better off spending a half season in AAA for a bit more seasoning, but it'll be extremely difficult to break camp without him on the roster if he keeps pitching this way. Kevin provides more detail on Bautista in his Friday blog entry.

Bautista's performance is pushing Jimmy Gobble out of a job, which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing. I'd love to see Gobble demonstrate he can handle AAA hitters for a season and reestablish his strikeout credentials, and look for him to return later this year or next year after Lima and Anderson are long gone. He's still a young guy with options.

Kyle Snyder has put together a string of very effective outings and is making a strong case to be the long man out of the 'pen, but with his injury history, he'll probably be on the DL within six weeks. His main competition, Dennis Tankersley and Mike Wood, haven't distinguished themselves thus far. If Tankersley pitches reasonably well, though, he may find himself on the roster simply because he's out of options. Wood will almost certainly start the season in AAA.

Shawn Camp and Nate Field earned the right to count themselves as "soft" incumbents after pretty effective performances last season, and both have pitched well enough to merit a spot in the bullpen to start the season.

Mike MacDougal has also pitched quite well, but he could find himself caught in a number's game. Jaime Cerda has had control problems this spring (though he did strikeout the side in the 9th yesterday), but as the incumbent LOOGY and following a pretty strong 2004 he may still have the edge. If Sullivan starts the season on the DL, that will open up an additional spot. I think Cerda or MacDougal's place on the roster may be determined by the Royals' decision of whether to carry 11 or 12 pitchers.

Of course, none of this matters all that much, as the team will use all of 2005 as a tryout for all of these pitchers. Beyond the higher dollar players, plus Greinke and perhaps Affeldt, no one is assured of a season-long spot on the staff. If Gobble, MacDougal and Wood aren't on the opening day roster, chances are they'll find themselves on the roster in the next month or two anyway. Some of these guys are going to fail in April and May, so they'll get their turn to play soon enough.

Projected Opening Day Pitching Roster, as of March 11:

Brian Anderson, SP
Denny Bautista, SP
Zack Greinke, SP
Runelvys Hernandez, SP
Jose Lima, SP
Jeremy Affeldt, RP
Jaime Cerda, RP
Andy Sisco, RP
Nate Field, RP
Shawn Camp, RP
Kyle Snyder, RP

Scott Sullivan, RP

Pitching His Way Into a Job
Denny Bautista
Kyle Snyder

Pitching His Way Out of a Job
Jaime Cerda
Dennis Tankersley

Numbers Game
Mike MacDougal

If the Royals Keep 12 Pitchers
Mike MacDougal


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