Sunday, December 18, 2005

Starting Rotation

How much better will the Royals' starting rotation be? Well, subtracting Lima and Anderson is a step in the right direction. The Royals appear to have done a decent job of adding some SP depth to the roster. Hopefully, the added depth will ensure that Luis Cota doesn't make his major-league debut after 5 good starts at High Desert.

Starting Rotation:

The Royals have added 4 new starting pitching candidates this offseason, upgrading the Royals' depth. The Royals have added Mark Redman, Scott Elarton, Elmer Dessens, and Bobby Madritsch. The Royals may also get Victor Santos and Seth Etherton back if they don't stay on their new team's big league roster. So, the Royals' starting pitching depth has improved, with 11 to 13 potential starters.

Sure Things (4): Zack Greinke, Runelvys Hernandez, Mark Redman, Scott Elarton
Other options (7-9): Mike Wood, Elmer Dessens, Jeremy Affeldt, Jimmy Gobble, Denny Bautista, JP Howell, Bobby Madritsch, Victor Santos, Sean Etherton

The depth is better, but is the quality better? Mark Redman and Scott Elarton are an upgrade over Lima and Anderson, but who isn't? Redman and Elarton (minus the Colorado stint) have been roughly league-average pitchers over the past 2 years. Factoring in an improved, but still poor Royals' infield defense, I expect both pitcher's ERAs to be around 5.00.

The biggest improvement will have to come from Greinke and Hernandez. Greinke had a terrible season last year, but had a couple of months where he pitched like a No. 2 starter. Greinke's control went from great in 2004 (K/BB ratio of 4) to pretty good (K/BB ratio of 2.1). Greinke also struggled badly against lefties who had a .941 OPS against him. Hernandez pitched well into mid-August, when fatigue and a suspension took a toll on his performance. Hernandez struggled with his control, which is not uncommon for pitchers coming off of TJ surgery. So, with improved control and endurance, Hernandez should improve this season.

The fifth spot is pretty much wide open at this point. Jeremy Affeldt will go into the spring preparing to start. I think Affeldt will be motivated to win the 5th spot, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him win it. Affeldt seems capable of pitching very well if he's motivated. Mike Wood is probably the second most likely option. Wood made 10 starts last year, but gave up 12 HRs in that short span. Still, Wood has shown he can be a decent fifth starter. The next option is probably JP Howell. Howell struggled in his first season, but that was mainly because he was rushed to the big leagues. I think Howell will probably start at AAA. Denny Bautista will also be in the mix. However, because of the Royals' fascination with power arms in the bullpen and his durability questions, he'll probably be in the bullpen. Gobble will probably start in AAA or could make the team as a middle reliever. Madritsch, Santos, and Etherton may become options by midseason, as injuries or poor performance take their inevitable toll.


At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Santos and Etherton aren't on the team anymore.

At 11:10 AM, Blogger SoonerRoyal said...

Yes, but if they don't remain on their new team's big league roster, they will be returned to the Royals. There is a good possibility that will happen, especially with Etherton.

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really hope so!

At 3:42 PM, Blogger Mike A said...

I think it might be best to let Greinke be the number 3 guy, with Redman & Elarton atop the rotation.
At the very least they'll eat up some innings...


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