Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/16/14

From last Thursday's season preview of the Royals...

Burning Question
Are the Royals going to get enough out of their rotation to contend in 2012?

Checking in a week later, the Royals rotation currently consists of Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar, Jonathan Sanchez, Luis Mendoza, and Danny Duffy. One of the more effective Royals starter last season, Felipe Paulino, will start the season on the DL with elbow soreness. That's not a good look at all for Kansas City. In 20 starts (21 games) last season, Paulino had a 3.51 FIP and an 8.59 strikeout rate, amassing 2.6 fWAR. That was tied for the highest among all Royals pitchers with the departed Jeff Francis, who threw nearly 60 more innings than Paulino.

Of the five Royals starters currently in the rotation, all but Mendoza had at least 20 starts in the majors. Mendoza spent most of the year at AAA Omaha for the Royals, and he only struck out 81 batters in 144 1/3 innings while walking 54. Last season in Omaha, he threw 131 2/3 innings and struck out 59 while walking 32. The walk rate is fine. The strikeout rate is...really, really bad. If you're going to strike out that few batters, you need to walk less than two per inning. I don't think Mendoza will be very effective in the rotation, and if Paulino is ready to roll soon, he'd represent a huge upgrade...possible two or three wins over the course of the season.

Hochevar qualified for the ERA title for the first time in his career last year, at age 27. This is Luke Hochevar's age 28 season? Really? Wow. Anyway, Hochevar really hasn't lived up to his status as a former number one overall pick. He has a career 5.29 ERA (but his 4.41 FIP says he's been better than that), a 5.95 strikeout rate, and a 3.01 walk rate. He also allows a homer every nine innings. This is not the guy you want heading up your rotation, but that's where the Royals are right now. Despite a career high 2.3 fWAR last year, Hochevar still had a bad 4.68 ERA (4.29 FIP) with 128 strikeouts and 62 walks. I actually think that this is his ceiling...maybe a three win guy if everything falls into place for him. Three win pitchers don't head the rotation of contenders.

The Royals made a big deal about re-signing veteran journeyman Bruce Chen this offseason, but really...it's Bruce Chen. He'll be 35 at midseason, and his strikeout rate has steadily decreased as his career has gone on. The 5.63 mark he posted last year is more than a strikeout per inning lower than his 6.82 career line, but his walk rate of 2.90 last year was also half a walk lower than his 3.45 career mark. If I could choose one word to describe Chen, it would be "mediocre". He's never had a 200 inning season. In fact, he has just one season where he qualified for the ERA title (2005 with Baltimore). His career ERA is slightly north of 4.50, and his career FIP is slightly north of 5.00. He's never had a two win season. And this is the guy you want to sign to make a free agency splash? OK then. 1.5 wins is probably his ceiling at this rate.

Former Giant Jonathan Sanchez is probably going to be the team's best starter this season, and that's not really a great thing. The 29 year-old had a horrific season last year, throwing just 101 1/3 innings. He struck out a batter per inning, but had a 5.86 walk rate. That is really, really bad. Sanchez is a guy that can give you an ERA around 4.00, but because of his high strikeout and walk rates, he can't throw a ton of innings. If the Royals got 180 innings out of 4.00 ERA ball out of him, they'd be thrilled. With his strikeout rate, I'd say that's a 2.5 win pitcher. 

And then, there's once highly touted prospect Danny Duffy. He made his major league debut last year, and only threw 105 innings in 20 starts. He had a 5.64 ERA, allowed more than a homer per inning, and walked more than four batters per nine innings. However, it was his first full season after missing a ton of time in 2010, when he only threw 78 innings. 2009 showed what Duffy has the potential to do, as he struck out nearly a batter per inning while walking fewer than three per nine. Duffy has ridiculous potential, but will he ever tap it? He's just 23, so there's plenty of time for him to translate his minor league dominance into a solid role in the majors. But still...two wins seems like a ceiling for him in 2012. Maybe three if everything goes correctly.

So assuming Paulino is healthy for most of the season, the Royals have what...a 12-15 win rotation? Last season, their rotation was worth 13.5 wins, and that was good for 21st in baseball. Repeating that would put them in around the same position. Of last season's eight playoff teams, the Cardinals rotation had the lowest fWAR, at 14.3. So it's certainly conceivable for the Royals to make the playoffs with a 15 win rotation...but the young offense would really need to deliver like it's capable of.

[follow]

{loadposition content4} 

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

RG3 on Patriots: 'They operate like a high school football team'

AUDIO: Reds skipper Bryan Price drops 77 f-bombs in rant

Monty Williams: Warriors home crowd noise 'out of hand'

LT thinks Philip Rivers won’t play for Chargers in 2015

Report: Kevin Ollie 'seriously considered' for Thunder job

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Floyd Mayweather: I'm a better fighter than Muhammad Ali

Video emerges of Warren Sapp talking about prostitute arrest

Chip Kelly in 2011: Tim Tebow is not our team's QB type

NBA commissioner: Sports gambling is 'good for business'

RG3 'wouldn't be bummed' if Redskins don't pick up option

Adrian Peterson would be the death of the Cowboys

The Milwaukee Brewers' untimely collapse

Cubs will reportedly call up prospect Addison Russell

Brewers' Scooter Gennett shares photo of nasty shower injury

WATCH: Fan at Pirates game hit by foul ball through netting

Hall of Famer Jim Palmer blasts David Ortiz over ejection

WATCH: President Obama leads 'O-H-I-O' chant

Fred Hoiberg shares video of him walking after heart surgery

DeAndre Jordan geeks out at Batman Exhibit

Philly welcomes Tim Tebow with 'tebowing' pretzel

Marshall Henderson trolls Erin Andrews over Stoll arrest

Steve Ballmer turned Lakers locker room into owner's lounge

Alex Rodriguez: Heir to the Empire

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Mayweather: I'm better than Ali

WATCH: Sapp talks prostitute arrest

Jim Palmer blasts David Ortiz

Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 car wins at Long Beach

Pat Riley takes shot at LeBron?

Philly welcomes Tim Tebow with 'tebowing' pretzel

Stop the Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady debate

Alex Rodriguez: Heir to the Empire

The Tim Tebow lottery ticket

If Tony Parker's not right, it's going to go wrong for Spurs

So the Mets might be contenders

Why Billy Donovan won't go to Oklahoma City

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.