Mid-Season Report Card (Part 2)
Today, it’s the pitchers. If you have a weak stomach you might want to skip this entry altogether. But then again, if you have a weak stomach, you shouldn’t be reading a Royals blog to begin with.
Same criteria as yesterday. The numbers under each entry might be a bit unconventional, but we thought it was as good a way as any to measure a pitcher’s worth. The numbers are ERA/K per 9 IP/BB per 9 IP.
Proceed with caution.
3.76 ERA /9.52 K per 9/4.20 BB per 9
Talking about saves makes me queasy. But we have to give some serious props to MacDougal. Over the last month and a half, with the game on the line, there hasn’t been anyone better. Since May 31 when he was anointed the Royals “closer,” he’s nine for nine in save opportunities with an ERA of 2.87. He hasn’t given up a run in a save situation since June 1. If you’re looking for a feel-good story, this is your guy.
2.72 ERA /9.42 K per 9/5.44 BB per 9
We anointed him our favorite early on, and nothing he has done has made us change our mind. An absolute steal in the Rule V draft, the Cubs loss is the Royals gain. He has struggled at times, but when he’s on it’s lights out for the hitters. His delivery makes it look like he’s releasing the ball about 40 feet from home plate. I pity the lefty that has to stand in that batters box. Currently being mishandled by the Royals as a LOOGY. His future is in the rotation so he would be better served entering the game at the beginning of an inning rather than with runners on base.
3.59 ERA /5.64 K per 9/4.27 BB per 9
After his early season success from the bullpen, we lobbied for Wood to rejoin the rotation. But after some careful research where it was revealed that hitters pound the ball after he goes through the lineup once, we are changing our position. Opponents are hitting almost 300 points higher the second time through the lineup against Wood. A terrible stat, to be sure, but that doesn’t diminish his value in pitching up to three innings of middle relief.
3.57 ERA /3.71 K per 9/3.04 BB per 9
Another Rule V success story (so far) for the Royals, Carrasco has shown flashes of brilliance since being converted from the bullpen. He’s faltered of late, having given up 10 base hits in each of his last two starts. Another concern is his low strikeout rate, (3.71 K/9 IP) by far the lowest on the team. The Royals will have to watch him very closely after the break to make sure he doesn’t tire and break down. Given the Royals track record with young pitchers, we’re not particularly optimistic.
4.53 ERA /5.35 K per 9/4.20 BB per 9
He’s going to give you about six innings, 10 baserunners and hopefully keep you in the game. He followed a mediocre first two months of the season with an outstanding June where the opposition hit only .185 against him. Since he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery, he’s a strong candidate to fade in the second half of the season.
3.21 ERA /7.71 K per 9/4.50 BB per 9
Is this the Mike Sweeney of the pitching staff or what? Just one season where he stays healthy and has a defined role on the staff. That’s all we ask. Currently, he’s being labeled as trade-bait, but we think it would be asinine to give up on a left-handed pitcher who can hit 96 on the gun. Stay well, Jeremy.
5.40 ERA /8.10 K per 9/6.30 BB per 9
Currently the third lefty in the pen. Damn, is this a messed up pitching staff or what?
7.11 ERA /6.39 K per 9/2.49 BB per 9
When he came up the first time, we had him pegged as a useful fourth or fifth starter on a last place team. Today, we have our doubts…
6.98 ERA /5.16 K per 9/2.73 BB per 9
In a nice touch of irony, Nunez was called up from the minors the day after the Pirates released Benny Santiago. The Royals are doing him no favors keeping him in the bigs. If the only pitch you can throw for a strike is a straight, 98 mph fastball you’re not going to get too many hitters out. Pitching is a difficult craft to learn, especially at the highest level.
8.65 ERA /5.54 K per 9/5.88 BB per 9
Here is the worst-case scenario for pitchers who are rushed to the big leagues. Currently, there’s not a hitter in all of baseball he’s fooling. Hell, he makes me want to grab a bat. Get this kid to Omaha or Wichita before he freaks out and barricades himself in the clubhouse with Greinke’s lucky necklace and Lima’s CD collection.
6.20 ERA /5.36 K per 9/2.40 BB per 9
OK, this is getting serious. He was the Royals best starter the first month and a half of the season. Through May 15 he was dealing, with a 3.09 ERA but his record was 0-4. That's fine. Wins for pitchers are overrated, and besides he was the victim of an unbelievable lack of run support. Everything was alright…He was pitching well and it was understood the wins would come eventually. But something happened. Something horrible. And since then he’s been a disaster. From May 20 onward, his ERA is above nine, his walks per 9 IP has doubled, his HR allowed per 9 IP has tripled and he has yet to pitch beyond the sixth inning. Not the kind of struggle you want anyone, let alone your future ace go through.
7.33 ERA /4.44 K per 9/3.28 BB per 9
WTP is beyond the point where we can rationally discuss this.
As you can see, WTP feels there aren’t many bright spots on this pitching staff. The starters have been a disaster (5.83 ERA and second-fewest strikeouts in the majors) and the relievers have been inconsistent.
Quite frankly, we’re worried. Royal pitchers are dropping quicker than an amateur poker player going heads up against Fossilman. One week we’re encouraged: Kyle Snyder, Brian Anderson and Denny Bautista were all in minor league rehab and were progressing nicely. No, those three aren’t world beaters, but they can spare us the carnage of another Lima or Howell start.
Suddenly, Snyder is going to be limited to 80 pitches per outing the rest of the season, Bautista hurts when he throws a breaking ball and Anderson is out for the year. Exactly what the hell is going on? Were these guys hurt worse than we were led to believe? Were they rushed into rehab before they were fully healed and then reinjured? Or when it comes to pitchers, is this organization just hampered with old-fashioned bad luck? It sure would be nice for someone from the Royals to address this problem with the pitching. It’s bad and it’s getting worse.
There is reason for some optimism. The bullpen is stocked with some really good, live arms. Future starter Sisco, MacDougal, Nunez, Affeldt and, when he returns, Ambiorix Burgos all tickle the radar gun at 95+ MPH, a luxury the Royals have never had. The problem is, we’re not convinced the Royals know what to do with these live arms. The track record isn’t encouraging.
Damn, this is fun. And we’re not stopping. Tomorrow grades are due for a couple other areas, including the manager(s).
And don’t be shy. Click that comment thingy and let us know how we’re doing.