Friday, September 02, 2005

Pitching Expectations for 2006

The 2005 season has been a disappointment. While the Royals didn't do much in the offseason to improve the team, I was hopeful that the Royals young players would develop and improve as the season progressed. If a few cases, that happened. DeJesus had a solid sophomore campaign, becoming the second-best hitter on the team. Sisco and Burgos have had great rookie seasons, even though both were in A ball last year. But, I'm afraid the negatives outweighed the positives. Expectations were highest for Zack Greinke, who has had a terrible sophomore campaign. Greinke's control has regressed, with his K/BB ratio dropping from an excellent 3.84 to 2.02. Expectations were also high for John Buck, who many Royals fans thought would have a 15-20 HR season. The lack of development of Teahan, Buck, and Gotay was disappointing as well. Hopefully, in 2006 we'll see more contributions from the young players.

Here's what I hope to see next year from our pitchers:

Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke needs to pitch around league-average or better. Greinke's defense-indepedent ERA has remained around 4.75 during both 2003 and 2004, so that's what I expect to see in 2006. Greinke is probably the Royals' best bet to become a No. 1 or 2 starter. If he can't improve his Lima-esque 6.28 ERA next year, then maybe he should take Berroa's job.

Runvelys Hernandez

Runelvys Hernandez had a good return from TJ surgery. I expect Hernandez's control to improve some, making him a league-average starter or slightly better. Hopefully, Greinke and Hernandez give the Royals two league-average starters.

DJ Carrasco

Carrasco had a nice start, but has struggled as the league has adjusted to him. Carrasco has a 6.75 ERA in July and a 6.00 ERA in August. Carrasco will compete with Wood for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

Mike Wood

Wood has pitched well in 5 starts, with a 3.45 ERA. But, like Carrasco, I don't think his success will continue, but he could be a decent #5 starter or a good long reliever.

JP Howell

Howell's premature debut hopefully hasn't hurt his development. If possible, Howell would be best served to start at AAA to work on his command. He must develop excellent control of his mid-80s fastball, otherwise he won't survive.

Denny Bautista

Bautista has shown flashes of greatness. But, he faces two major issues. First, he has to get healthy and stay healthy. Second, he must improve his command and consistency of his nasty stuff. If that happens, he could have a breakout season.

Free Agent Starter(s)

The Royals will need to add one or two good starters. Hopefully, the Royals can sign a No. 2/3 starter like Paul Byrd, Estaben Loaiza, Kevin Millwood, etc and avoid the Lima-types.

Mike MacDougal

MacDougal has improved his consistency this year and has become a good closer. The Royals need him to continue that in 2006.

Jeremy Affeldt

Affeldt hasn't made any progress as a Royal. The Royals still don't know what he can do. Affeldt's trade value has dropped considerably since the trade deadline, when the Royals made the mistake of not trading him.

Andrew Sisco

Hopefully, Sisco will become a starter. He has three good pitches and has no problem getting lefties and righties out. If not, hopefully he continues to improve and build on a great rookie season in the bullpen.

Ambiorix Burgos

Burgos has had a great debut as well, considering how young he is. Burgos will likely be MacDougal's setup man.

Leo Nunez

Nunez had a rough debut after being prematurely promoted to the majors. Nunez should be a good setup man once he develops. Hopefully, the Royals bring him along slowly and he can help contribute by midseason.


Depending on their September performances, Jonah Bayliss and Jimmy Gobble may earn a roster spot. Gobble hasn't been great in relief, struggling with his command. Gobble has the stuff to be a good starter, but his command will have to improve. Bayliss has pitched well so far and could be a good middle reliever next year.

Free Agent Reliever(s)

Should the Royals' wisely try Sisco and/or Burgos in the rotation, the Royals will need to add a veteran reliever or two, which they should probably do anyway. Finding a couple of good free agent relievers would be a much more feasible than signing a couple of good starters.

Overall, the Royals have a lot of young pitchers on their team. If they can develop them, the Royals' pitching will improve considerably in 2006. If not, the Royals will continue to lose 100+ games and change pitching coaches each season.


At 4:28 AM, Blogger royalsbeliever said...

Hey, I agree with your opinion on Zack. Hopefully this is just a sophomore slump. Believe it or not, Splittorff had a 19 loss season in his career. Maybe that could insert some hope. I actually disagree with your assessment of Mike Wood, I tend to think he will be a successful major-league starter. This is what I expect our rotation to look like next season:

FA(Millwood, Byrd, etc. like you I hope we can avoid Lima types)

Howell needs to spend more AAA-Omaha time, believe it or not.

At 3:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Royals need to get on with that human cloning program and get DNA samples from the five guys in the '85 starting rotation. Then and only then will the Royals be successful again.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger DL said...

I saw that Greinke's FIP stats were about the same as 2005 as they were in 2004, but does anyone REALLY believe that he's been as good this year as last year? No, he's been hammered. JoePo's assessment is that the Royals are trying to turn Greinke into a power pitcher (something they talked about earlier this season), which has cost him control (and I would add movement) and made him a far worse pitcher. I think there's some truth to that. The Royals specialize in ruining pitchers, so they're always innovating in that respect.


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