Stretching out Treinen

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Blake Treinen isn’t exactly the spry young man of day’s past. At 29 years old, the chances of massive growth at the major league level are slim, but with his nasty arsenal and history, nothing can be ruled out. The idea for this article came from the guys at Effectively Wild, Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer and Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs, who made a comment on episode 1085 that the Oakland A’s may look at stretching Treinen back out as a starter. The idea was unfortunately not elaborated but I got curious and decided to research Treinen’s chances of becoming an effective starter in the bay.

Trienen last started for the Nationals in 2014 as a fill in player picking up 50.2 innings over 7 starts and 8 relief outings. Over those 7 starts, he threw 36 innings with a 3.00 ERA, a 3.60 FIP, and a 1.31 WHIP while allowing just  three runs or fewer in six of those seven games. The appeal of Treinen as a reliever came from his 8 relief outings where he totaled a 1.23 ERA, a 1.84 FIP, and a 1.57 WHIP in 14.2 innings. That 2014 season, in which Treinen finished with a 151 ERA+, allowed him to cement a place in the Nationals staff with the potential to shine in either pitching role.

The Nationals opened up the 2017 season with the hopes that Treinen would emerge as the elite bullpen arm they were missing, but the tale of the tape has been quite discouraging. Trienen posted just a 5.73 ERA, a 3.75 FIP, and a 1.619 WHIP in 37.2 innings as a National in the first half leading them to seek additional bullpen help. All of this despite the absolutely nasty pitches showing up on PitcherList every week (Just google Treinen Slider if you want to see something nasty) which is exactly why I can see the a taeam  wanting to pick him up and potentially convert him back into a starter. So let’s get a more in depth look on what a 2017 starting Blake Treinen would look like and why the A’s are the team he would most likely start on.

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“Small school senior signs don’t typically have the stuff South Dakota State RHP Blake Treinen has, but his is an unusual case. He has the size and stuff to start, but could be a late inning possibility if he stays in the bullpen. Either way, his inexperience means he’ll take some time to develop. On the plus side, however, said inexperience means he has plenty of bullets left in his right arm.”

– Blake Treinen Scouting Report 2011

 

Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s drafted Treinen in the 7th round in 2011 before shipping him to Washington a little later, but in his time in the Oakland system, he saw a lot of action as a starter. Treinen started 15 games in the Oakland A ball affiliate in 2012 meaning that the A’s liked him as a guy who could potentially start. The Nationals then ran Treinen out as a starter in the following two minor league seasons prior to the 2014 call up, lending to the narrative of his stuff. The overall picture being that two organizations looked as his raw ability and saw a starter with a good multi-pitch mix, so let’s analyze Treinen’s pitch mix to see if it would hold up in s starting role.

Treinen has 4 main pitches: the Fastball, Sinker, Changeup, and Slider each paired with a lot of movement

The Fastball

Treinen has thrown in fastball 21.3 % of the time this season, making it his 2nd most used pitch. The pitch comes in at a hearty 97.4mph, making it one of the consistantly hardest pitches in the majors. This got me thinking to compare Treinen with Joe Kelly to see what Treinen’s fastball could could look like in a starting role, where velocities are typically lower. Kelly averaged around a 95mph fastball as a stater with the Red Sox and Cardinals from 2012 to 2016 and a 99mph average as a reliever in 2017 with the Red Sox. Using this as a baseline, thus making Treinen a reverse Joe Kelly, Treinen’s fastball would probably come in around 94-95mph as a starter, making it still a consistently hard pitch.

BT FB

The Sinker

Treinen’s most used pitch at 51.8% is also his most popular amongst fans leading to a wealth of gifs. The pitch sits at a pretty 97.2mph on average and can top out around 100. The pitch has a ton of movement and deception to it as well. It is the top aid in Treinen’s 66% GB rate in 2017 having produced at 68.5%  and can also generate a ton of swings and misses with its 49.1 swing %.

BT SI

The Changeup

If you consistently throw in the upper 90’s, a deadly changeup can be your best friend, but Treinen has only thrown the pitch 7.2% of the time in 2017. If moved into a starting role, that pitch would have to become more developed if Treinen wants to keep hitters guessing. The pitch average around 89mph meaning that hitters will have to deal with a decent drop off in velocity if they want to barrel the ball.

BT CH

The Slider

Treinen’s slider is absolutely filthy. He throws the breaking pitch 19.8 % of the time to much success. Treinen has thrown the pitch as fast as 92mph and as slow as 84mph in 2017 and it has a career strikeout rate of 49.4% and a 22.6% swinging strike rate. The movement on the pitch can be electric with Treinen’s career averages at 1.7,/-2.2/ 2.6 xMov/zMov/Mov.

BT SL

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Treinen’s movement as a starter in 2014

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Treinen’s movement in 2017

^Here you can see Treinen’s Horizontal and Vertical movements as a starter and reliever

OAKLAND ATHLETICS VS. TAMPA BAY RAYS

In essence, Treinen has 3 above average pitches with the potential for a 4th if he works on his changeup. Based off of his past as a semi-effective starter and a potential lockdown releiver, I see Treinen as a reverse Joe Kelly. The Oakland A’s could move Treinen into the rotation considering and injury or trade (cough Sonny Gray cough) and allow him to revitalize his career at 29.

St.Louis needs to address its Bullpen

Busch

The NL Central has turned into a winnable division for every team not based out of Cincinnati, OH mostly because the Cubs have not been very good (but let’s save that for another post) and the Pirates are having Drug and Alcohol Problems (I’m looking at you Kang and Marte). This means that the 5 GB Cardinals have a chance to come away with a playoff birth in 2017. In fact, considering their strong offensive base, if it were not for their horrendous Bullpen, they might be up their with the Brewers for the division lead. The fact of the matter is that the Cardinals have lost 16 games in which they have at one point led by 2 or more runs, good for worst in Franchise history. So what’s the problem and how can John Mozeliak address it.

The Bullpen is not entirely disgusting becuase Oh and Rosenthal have more than serviceable this year. They rank in the middle of the pack in WPA at 14th at -.37, nowhere near as bad as Detroit’s -3.18. The core of a solid Bullpen is there, they just need help.

STL BP WPA

STL BP ADV

If you cannot tell from those charts, part of the problem has been the disappearance of Brett Cecil as an effective starter.

BC Fip

Cecil has gone from being extremely valuable to being exactly league average. It’s hard to tell if Cecil will even make a strong second half rebound considering what his Career BABIP looks like.

BC Babip

If the Cardinals want to make a push, they need to add to Oh and Rosenthal in order to give them a solid backend trio because the current set up won’t hold up over the season, let alone a post-season series.

Potential Targets

Pat Neshek: 0.67 ERA  2.27 FIP  0.9WAR

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies-Media Day

Former St.Louis Cardinal has been electric for a practically dead Phillies team in 2017 and they will certainly look to move him. Considering his age and contract, it should not take much for Mozeliak to swing a deal

Brad Hand: 2.82 ERA  3.23 FIP  0.6 WAR

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The Padres are known to be receiving calls on Hand and St.Louis should join that hunt. if If they make an offer way before the deadline, I’m sure the Padres would happy to accept. Hand would give the Cardinals a solid reliever with a couple of years of control, not mention giving them a litteral hand.

Jim Johnson: 3.34 ERA  2.15 FIP  1.0 WAR

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Johnson is owed money (4.5M) in 201, making it a better investment for the Cardinal’s competitive window. Atlanta has a low need for proven MLB closers and could serve to donate his innings to one of their many Minor League Arms.

Lordy, Bronson Arroyo is bad

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I spent quite a while trying to find the worst possible Bronson Arroyo picture and this one just spoke to me. The hair ended up being the final clincher in choosing this image over the plethora of other viable candidates. Image Link

Day after day, amateur baseball writers like myself and professional writers seem to think they are smart by bashing on the beloved righty Jared Weaver of the San Diego Padres. Granted, Jared Weaver has been utterly atrocious by every baseball metric available and every radar held pointlessly towards his “fastball”. Seemingly unnoticed, however, has been the work of another atrocious righty playing for a team under renovation. Bronson “Don’t Call It a Comeback” Arroyo continues to quietly die in a Reds uniform and for the past 13 starts it would seem that nothing positive has come from his return to Cincy. That line of thinking would lead most down the path of completely ignoring his work, but I find that we can use Bronson as a sort of teachers example. Let’s look at the former steady starter in order to understand the importance of Pitching Peripherals in judging today’s variety of starters.

I have chosen three percentage based statistics to use as a baseline: GB%, HR/FB, and Pull%. In case you are unaware as to what those exactly mean.

GB% = the percentage of batted balls hit on the ground

HR/FB% = ratio of home runs out of fly balls

Pull% = the percentage of batted balls that were pulled by the hitter

GB%

It appears as if Arroyo has relied on a ground-ball based arsenal for the majority of his career, yet his Fastball, Cutter, Sinker, Slider base has been extremely ineffective in that realm; producing GB rates that are neither consistent or near the league average.

BA Career GB%

Looking at the GB% of each of his major pitches in 2017 we can see where some of the faults lie.

Fastball = 49.3%

Cutter = 21.2%

Sinker = 40.7%

Slider = 19.0%

His fastball is the only pitch resulting in above average results but Arroyo has been throwing it less and less as his velocity declines (more on that later).

Relative to an above-average Starting Pitcher in Carlos Martinez (50.9 GB% 67 ERA-) and an almost exactly league average Starting Pitcher in Daniel Norris (40.7 GB%  101 ERA-); it is clear how below average Arroyo has been in generating ground balls. Obviously the argument could be made that Arroyo is therefore a Fly Ball Pitcher but that is where our next statistic comes into play.

HR/FB Rate 

In order for Arroyo to be successful while not producing a league average GB%, then he must be able to limit the amount of fly balls that head into the stands. As you probably guessed, Arroyo has been unable to accomplish this feat.

BA career HRFB

Homeruns may be up overall in the Majors but they are drastically up for Bronson. As we did with GB%, lets compare this statistic with two other Major league Starters: Danny Duffy (5.1 HR/FB%, 80 ERA-) and Tanner Roark (12.3 HR/FB%, 100 ERA-).

So if the balls hit in the air are going for dongs… the question becomes why?

Pull %

The hits are certainly not clearing the fence by luck.

BA Career PUll%.PNG

I believe it is correct to say that the league is crushing his middling 84mph fastball, but some of the blame for can be placed on Arroyo’s fastball location.

BA FB location

Arroyo is leaving meatballs right over the dish for the rest of the National League to crush. Let’s again see how Arroyo’s Pull% compares to other Pitchers: Stephen Strasburg (35.1 Pull %, 75 ERA-) and Alex Cobb (43.2 Pull%, 99 ERA-).

Conclusion

To quote Mr.Arroyo after his most recent shelling. “You have to put up enough quality starts for a ball club to want to keep you around, you know? That could have been the last time I was on the field, yeah. It’s just the way it is.”

Even Bronson knows that things aren’t boding well for him going forward, even on a suffering Reds team, but just because it’s over for him doesn’t mean we can’t use Arroyo as an example. These Batted Ball Percentages allow us to see how certain statistics effect Pitchers who are below average, average, and above average.

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Bronson Arroyo 2000-2017

 

Using an excessive amount of charts and graphs to try to explain Ervin Santana

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Because the 2017 MLB season makes absolutely zero sense, Ervin Santana has been lead the Minnesota Twins to a tentative hold on first place in the American League Central. In fact, Santana has been leading the entire league in a number of categories (as of 5/30)

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That’s two months of season with an ERA higher than Keuchel, Sale, and Kershaw.

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Two months leading in Innings pitched.

 

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Two months leading in LOB%

 

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Two months leading in BABIP.

 

Yep. Two months leading the league in Batting Average on Balls In Play. Things are going to go down hill for Ervin as also evident by his 4.09 FIP and 4.67 xFIP but for now he is riding a massive high. It is worth finding out, however, why Santana has been so dominant despite these troubling signs. (In part to further understand the importance of Peripheral statistics)

Let’s begin by analyzing two of Santana’s most prominent pitches: his fastball and his slider.

Santana’s fastball has been extremely effective this year. Opposing hitters are slashing just .174/.291/.357 off of the pitch for a total WRC+ of 90. The odd thing about his fastball is that hitters are making contact 88% of the time and it has only generate a swinging strike rate of 5.5%. The pitch has been both dominant and easy to hit. The key to the success can again be traced back to BABIP where Santana’s most common pitch has a mere .159 average.

 

 

FA chart HM

Santana has been locating his fastball extremely effectively as well.

 

ES FA location.PNG

Despite leaving slightly more fastballs over the plate, Santana has been spreading the pitch all over the strike zone. Batters have not been able to hit the pitch well regardless.

 

ES FA sluggling.PNG

Obviously, pitches left over the middle of the plate are going to be hit slightly harder but those slugging percentages are well bellow the league average of .416 in 2017.

 

Let’s move on to Santana’s out pitch and arguably his best pitch: his slider. Using the same metrics as the fastball, opposing hitters are slashing .063/.138/.100 against the pitch with a remarkable WRC+ of -23. Batters are making contact 67.9% of the time and swinging through 13.6%. As with most of Santana’s statistics, the BABIP on the pitch is .077. Yes you read that correctly, a .077 average.

 

SL chart Hm

Similarly to the fastball, Santana has been excellent in locating his slider.

 

ES slider locations

Santana is dropping that slider inside to left-handers and away from right-handers. Almost nothing is getting left over the plate.

 

ES SL slg p.PNG

No one is hitting that slider anywhere.

Santana has been both extremely lucky and extremely gifted in his pitching this year. His fastball and slider combination continuously dominates opposing lineups despite clear evidence that he should be pitching worse. A clear way to tell the differnce between a pitcher like Santana and true ace is to simply compare them.

 

E v D basic stats

Dallas Keuchel and Ervin Santana have almost identical surface statistics in 2017. They have thrown around the same Innings, have ERA’s within .05 points of eachother, and WHIP’s within .03. Underneath the surface it becomes clear. Keuchel is striking out near 8 batters per 9 while Santana trots in at 6.55. Keuchel is only walking 2 per 9 while Santana is walking 3.4 per 9.

When we compare the BABIP and FIP’s of the two pitchers it becomes even more obvious.

 

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Santana cannot and will not continue his torrid pace. Even if hitters keep falling on their rears trying to hit his slider.

Was that enough Charts and Graphs?

 

Data from FanGraphs.com

The Remarkably Unremarkable Dylan Bundy

In 2011, SBNation writer Dave Coleman wrote of Orioles righty Dylan Bundy that he” has the stuff to be a No. 1 ace for a long time for whichever team drafts him. His fastball and two other plus pitches right now make him scary enough. Imagine once he learns how to pitch! Bundy could join Stephen Strasburg and Tim Lincecum as the best pitchers of the next decade.”

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013 and solidifying himself in the Orioles staff in 2016, it seems that Coleman wasn’t too far off from his 2011 claims of Bundy becoming a No.1 starter. The problem is that he is nothing like Strasburg or even pre-Apocalypse Tim Lincecum … Dylan Bundy is remarkably unremarkable.

Stephen “Disabled List” Strasburg carries the pure arsenal to make a batter check his drawers and uses it when healthy as evident by his career 10.46 career K/9 and 30.6% K rate in 2016. Strasburg pairs his massive strikeout ability with a comfortable 45.3% GB rate. These are the kind of stats that you expect from an ace level pitcher, especially one attached to $175 million over 7 years. Tim Lincecum used to carry the same kind of weight, striking out more than a batter per 9 with a 46% GB rate during his majestic 2008-2011 run with San Francisco. Lincecum carried the Giants to multiple World Series Wins and Strasburg, although behind Max Scherzer, remains one of the most gifted pitchers in the majors.

So how is Dylan Bundy meeting his expectations?

For starters, he is carrying a typically understaffed Orioles rotation that finds itself in second place in the American League East. His 1.2 WAR leads the Orioles and far exceeds his Steamer projections. But let’s look at how his K/9 compares to Lincecum and Strasburg

Bundy v Strasburg v Lincecum

Bundy comes in well below peak Lincecum and current Strasburg yet is close to matching Strasburg on 2017 WAR (1.2 v 1.7). Bundy’s K/9 is almost exactly league average (6.40 v 6.29).

Looking at other peripherals against Strasburg in 2017

Groundball rate) 32.1% versus 47.6%

Fly Ball rate) 43.3% versus 32.9%

BABIP) .261 versus .281

WHIP) 1.14 versus 1.11

ERA-) 69 versus 76

Bundy and Strasburg have been sort of close but Strasburg pulls away with pure dominance. So how is Bundy producing like an Ace without the big Ace numbers that we have come to expect from no.1 Starters?

Bundy v Strasburg v Lincecum LOB

Bundy has been stranding runners at a well above average rate this year. He is 8th in the majors in LOB% (min 60IP) which has certainly aided his hot start. Obviously some regression is to be expected (.394 FIP), but Bundy has certainly been able to leave runners on base thus preventing them from scoring crucial runs.

If Bundy can keep up some sort of pace close to this, he should finish in the upper echelon of AL starters despite average peripherals. Bundy is not Strasburg or peak Lincecum like Dave Coleman clamed he could become in 2011, but Bundy is Bundy and this year he has been remarkably unremarkable.

Data from Fangraphs.com

Eddie Arrieta

The year is 2020, Mlb.com has just regurgitated their yearly list of the “most lopsided trades in MLB history” or something along those lines. This years list is more of the same, a couple of older trades no one remembers ending with transactions from Theo Epstein’s run atop the cursed Cubbies. However, something is different with the click-bait in 2020 from 2017, for the top three trades are the following…

#3

Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na    ↔    Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates

#2

Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger    ↔   Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop

#1

James Farris and  International Bonus Slot No. 28    ↔    Eddie Butler and International Bonus Slot No.74

That’s right folks! The most lopsided trade in the history of baseball is February 1st 2017’s Eddie Butler pick up by the MLB champion Chicago Cubs, rejoice once more Bill Murray because the Colorado Rockies messed up once again. In exchange for a throwaway prospect and a swap of some cash, Theo once again steals premium talent away from the hands of those less keen sighted. I am no scout nor will I claim to be one, but I would put my money on Eddie Butler finding his footing at Wrigley and becoming the next Cubs pitcher to breakout under Chris Bosio *cough* Jake Arrieta *cough*.

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Let’s take a look at the similarities between Butler and Arrieta from a career perspective before switching to a more analytical approach.

Jake Arrieta 

Yahoo Sports writer David Brown once described him as “Eternal prospect Jake  Arrieta” which was perfectly fitting prior to his electrifying 2015 campaign which ended in some sick hardware. Arrieta, once a top 50 MLB prospect struggled from 2010-2013 with Baltimore, tossing 358 Innings of 5.46 ERA ball with a sad 77 ERA +, but turned the corner with Chicago producing 634.2 Innings of 2.52 ERA ball with a much more respectable 153 ERA+ from 2013-2016. Arrieta is the Cinderella story of a baseball generation, a true rags to riches righty  with nothing left to prove.

Eddie Butler

For all we know, Butler has a crushing fear of heights that has hindered his performance in Denver, or Butler’s disgustingly bad seasons in the Mile High City have spawned said fear of heights. The point being that getting out of dodge may assist the once highly rated prospect. Like Arrieta, Butler was once given the praise of being a top 50 MLB prospect and promised to bring stable innings to Colorado’s future. Instead we received 36 appearances (28 starts) of 6.50 ERA baseball complimented by a dismal 73 ERA + and 1.6 HR/9 for good measure. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty.

After that paragraph is where hopefully one day I can write that…”Butler, like Arrieta, turned a corner with Chicago, churning in (insert respectable Innings numbers) of (insert great ERA) ball tied to a (insert ERA+ that makes it clear he was far above league average) that helped lead Chicago to three consecutive World Series titles.”

But how can Butler achieve Arrieta Status?

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Scouting Report Analysis

Arrieta and Butler feature a number of similar comments on scouting reports that hint at future success

Scout Jason Cole writes of Butler in 2013 that “His stuff is nasty; nobody doubts that. It’s a power arsenal with huge life. His delivery isn’t ideal and leads some scouts to believe he profiles best in the bullpen––where I think he’d be a potential elite closer––but he seems to make it work enough to stick in a starting role. He repeated, got to both sides of the plate, should be durable, and showed a plenty deep repertoire.

While Orioles Scouting Director Joe Jordan wrote in 2008 of Arrieta “He’s a four-pitch guy. When the other three pitches become consistent and he can use them the way he needs to, the sky is the limit. That’s what I’m looking forward to from him in 2009, the progression of secondary pitches. When he makes that step, he’s going to force his way to the big leagues.” and Alex Eisenberg of the Hardball Times adds in 2009 that Arrieta’s stuff may best be utilized in a bullpen role for Baltimore considering his struggle to find a groove and control.

In both cases, the pitchers posses elite pitch arsenals that they struggle to master, a potential to provide quality innings, and the power stuff to carve out a role in an MLB bullpen at least.

The Ground-ball

The situation that Butler is walking into is perfect. The average MLB GB% sits around 48% while Butler has pitched near a 50% in his big league career and while projections have him near that 48% mark for 2017, Cubs Pitching Coach has done an excellent job extracting the best from the ground-out as seen by Arrieta’s success and Kyle Hendrick’s breakout 2016.

Moreover, Butler is walking in on an infield defense to die for with Bryant, Russell, Baez/Zobrist, and Rizzo which, according to stat site oddshark.com was the best defense in the majors in 2016. That defense should help provide Butler with much more stability than he received in Denver and should in turn reduce his H9 of 12.2 and .357 BABIP.

The Cubs 

This argument is arbitrary and has little analytical backing, but there is something about the Cubs pitching staff under Joe Maddon that just makes you think it can be done. Kyle, Hendricks and Jake Arrieta were no names in 2013 but came together with proven stud Jon Lester to form a dynamic staff. Cub’s pitching coach Chris Bosio’s track record of reclamation is not as deep as Ray Searage’s but features a now perennial Cy Young candidate in the similar Jake Arrieta. Manager Joe Maddon brings out the best in his troops and inspires more that what you are deemed capable of.

 

In all likelihood,

Eddie Butler probably won’t become the next Jake Arrieta. However, if he reaches the ceiling he is capable of, the NL central better watch out because cracking through the Cubs will be tough. If he accomplishes these goals, I will be over here at The Swinging Strike ready to say “I told you so” while sipping out of my memorial three-peat Cubs mug.

Royal Blue: In the Wake of Tragedy, Where does Kansas City go from here?

On January 22nd, 2017, the baseball world was stripped of the opportunity to see dominance emerge. Despite being stolen from the game at the age of 25, Yordano Ventura cemented his legacy in Baseball lore and in the hearts of Kansas City. The oft-described fiery spirit emerged as a rotation threat during the Royal’s breathtaking 2014 playoff run and continued to provide solid innings for the 2015 and 2016 staffs. Ventura always had the stuff to dominate hitters but struggled to find the consistency of a #1 in a rotation resulting in underwhelming results considering his talent ceiling.Yet that stuff and energy often got the better of him, resulting in multiple questionable instances over the years, but his teammates truly appreciated his deep desire to impress and dominate. In memoriam of Yordano, teammate and friend Christian Colon wrote that “I knew the struggle you had to overcome to get where you were and I could always see it in you eyes that you wanted more”

It is clear that Yordano brought his own flavor to the game, inspiring his teammates to succeed and inspiring opposing hitters to get better.

All in all, Ventura finished with 38-31 record 3.89 ERA 107 ERA+ and 3.98 FIP over 547.2 Innings between 2013 and 2016. Along with 2 astonishing World Series runs including one ring in 2015. link to baseball-reference

Needless to say, He will be missed.

ventura-yordano-us

With just 21 days until Spring Training begins, The Royals will have to make a move or two in order to remain relevant in an interesting AL Central.

The problem,unfortunately, lies in the rotation.

The staff, led by recently extended lefty Danny Duffy, features the overpaid Ian Kennedy and an assortment of questionable arms. The Royals will not make the postseason with the current situation and Ned Yost will definitely feel short handed relative to the previous staffs that included Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and the late Yordano Ventura along with Wade Davis and Greg Holland in the bullpen. Even more frightening is the exodus of bats that will leave following the 2017 campaign.

So how to the Royals solidify the staff?

Short-Term Solutions

The Royals need innings and they need them fast

Option 1: Jason Hammel

Hammel is clearly the best remaining Free Agent starter, having tossed 337.1 Innings over 61 starts of 3.79 ERA ball with an slightly above league average 103 ERA+ since the onset of 2015 with the Cubs (link to baseball-reference). Those numbers sound like Royal’s starters stats. Hammel could slide in behind Duffy and Kennedy to form a serviceable front three (if Duffy emerges like he is predicted). MLBtraderumors reports that the Mariners were the last team interested before acquiring Gallardo and Smyly. This leaves the Royals the opportunity to swing some payroll at the presumably cheap right-hander. Hammel should command no more than a one or two year deal not exceeding what Andrew Cashner got from the Rangers.

Option 2: Scott Kazmir

The pricier of the Short-Term solutions, Kazmir would cost the Royals an asset or two in a trade and comes with a steep contract and injury concerns, but also brings more upside than Hammel. Kazmir threw 136.1 Innings of 85 ERA+ ball with the injury riddled 2016 Dodgers, however as recently as 2015 possessed a 126 ERA+ and made the all star team in 2014 (link to baseball-reference). Despite his age and experience, Kazmir brings upside and quality stuff. In the ideal world, the deep pocketed Dodgers would contribute a significant portion of his salary, but the Royals could involve Joakim Soria in a swap which would help make the $16,000,000 payroll hit less of an impact (link to baseball prospectus).

Long-Term Solutions

The Royals will need to retool soon, and a controllable asset could go a long way.

Option 1: The Phillies

The Phillies will most likely not compete next season, but their flexible payroll and stockpile of MLB ready arms make them a potential trade partner with the Royals. Jared Eickoff, Aaron Nola, and Vincent Velasquez could all be targets for Dayton Moore. All three possess multiple years of control and the kind of upside that the Royals need. In return, the Phillies could nab Mike Moustakes, allowing Franco to slide to first base where he will provide the most defensive value long term and given the financial capacity of Philadelphia, an extension is possible. The Royals received quality play at Third Base in 2016 and have Ryan O’Hearn itching in the Minors to replace Moustakes’s bat. This move is a bit of a stretch, but has potential for both sides.

Option 2: Jimmy Nelson

Nelson pitched to a 4.62 ERA and 92 ERA + in 2016 but could provide stable back-end innings for the Royals for the nest four seasons (link to baseball-reference). The Brewer’s asking price will most likely not be high, but shouldn’t garner more than the Dan Straily overpay. Nelson is a controllable asset that should benefit from the spacious Kouffman Stadium, as his 1.9 HR/9 shows. The fact of the matter is that the Royals will be irrelevant in 2 years unless they acquire a starter like Nelson with team control.

Conclusion

It has been a rough few days for Kansas City and my condolences go to Ventura’s family and friends

But the season starts sooner than it seems and they now have a more glaring rotation issue than ever.

Here’s to a successful 2017 Royals