Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/13/13
Continuing from this morning's preview of the Kansas City Royals... Are the Royals' upgrades in the rotation enough for them to compete with the Tigers and White Sox at the top of the AL Central? This is probably the most important question regarding the Royals going into 2013. The team completely retooled their rotation this offseason, adding James Shields, Wade Davis, and Ervin Santana to the veteran duo of Jeremy Guthrie and Bruce Chen. Sure, the Royals rotation isn't better than Detroit's star-studded quintet, and it's probably inferior to the rotation that the White Sox have put together. But will the newly-formed Kansas City front five be enough to at least make a run at contention? The Royals rotation last season was...bad. Really bad. They cumulatively had a 5.01 ERA, 4.59 FIP, and 4.57 xFIP, which were all among the worst in baseball. The good news for the Royals is that the Indians and Twins had even worse rotations last year. The bad news is that the White Sox rotation was much better than the Royals staff, and the Tigers rotatoin was one of the best in all of baseball. On the bright side, that 2012 rotation returns just 48 starts to the 2013 staff through Guthrie and Chen. Jonathan Sanchez is gone, Luis Mendoza and Luke Hochevar have been banished to the bullpen, and Will Smith has fallen way out of favor with management. Unfortunately for the Royals, Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino likely won't be factors until mid-season after both underwent Tommy John surgery last summer. If Davis is struggling and needs to be moved back to the bullpen, or Chen continues to struggle after a disappointing 2012 campaign, the Royals won't really be getting any help until the All-Star Break, unless prospect Yordano Ventura continues to open eyes in the minors. There's also not really a guarantee that Santana is going to be some sort of monster in the rotation for Kansas City. He got shelled away from the pitcher-friendly Angel Stadium last season, and moving to the hitter-friendly Kauffman Stadium is something that could result in even more balls going over the fence and his ERA absolutely cratering after a 5.16 mark in 2012. Davis was a starter for the Rays in 2010 and 2011, and didn't crack one fWAR in either season despite making 29 starts in each season. Shields is a solid, known commodity, but assuming that Davis and Santana are on the same level as him is a flawed premise. The Kansas City rotation will likely be a lot better in 2013 than in 2012. But assuming that it's going to be on the level of Detroit's, or even Chicago's, is a silly thought when you look at the history of Santana and Davis, as well as the relative mediocrity of Chen and Guthrie. Royals on TOC End of Season Postmortem 2013 Season Preview You May Say I'm a Dreamer 2013 Burning Question This Is My Nightmare (3:00 PM) 2013 X-Factor (4:30 PM) [follow]

This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

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