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Pitching-starved Royals have found a gem in Felipe Paulino

May 24, 2012, 11:51 AM EDT

Felipe Paulino AP

One of the things holding the Royals’ rebuilding effort back despite a steady influx of young talent is their lack of quality starting pitching, as former No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochevar has a 5.39 career ERA at age 28 and 23-year-old Danny Duffy blew out his elbow after showing lots of promise.

Kansas City’s starters rank 27th in ERA this season after ranking 29th last season and 29th in 2010. That makes it tough to contend regardless of how well the young hitting talent fares, but the Royals appear to have snagged at least one high-upside arm for the rotation in right-hander Felipe Paulino.

Paulino always had a big-time fastball and good strikeout rates, but they came along with spotty control, trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark, and lots of health issues for the Astros and then briefly the Rockies. Colorado designated him for assignment in May of last season, eventually trading him to Kansas City for cash considerations, and Paulino stepped into the Royals’ rotation with great results ever since.

He made 20 starts last season and has made four starts this year since missing April with a forearm injury, throwing a total of 150 innings with a 3.66 ERA and 148/55 K/BB ratio. During that time Paulino’s average fastball of 95.2 miles per hour is the third-highest velocity in baseball and he’s improved his control from terrible to merely bad while serving up just 11 homers in 634 plate appearances. And that’s while moving from the NL to the AL.

Stockpiling young pitching prospects only to see a 28-year-old acquired for some petty cash emerge as the team’s best starter wasn’t exactly the Royals’ plan, but right now Paulino looks capable of being a long-term building block for a rotation that desperately needs one.

  1. randall351 - May 24, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Well great you probably just “Al Michealed” him, so much for the only bright spot in the rotation it’s just a matter of time now till he is either injured or turns back into a pumpkin.
    Thanks a lot Aaron.

  2. personalspaceinvader - May 24, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Among Rockies fans, Paulino is a running gag. An excellent example of both the organization’s mishandling of pitchers (Apodoca) and one of the names associated with one of the worst years in recent memory (’11).

    Actually, 2012 is arguably worse. And Apodoca is still the pitching coach.

  3. l0yalr0yal - May 24, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    I like Paulino. But I also heard a funny comparison the other day on Twitter. Someone called Paulino an “Ace”, which was responded to with “Royals fans see a fat, ugly chick that wants to hump and they fall in love”. For me, she doesn’t even have to want to hump at this point.

  4. riverace19 - May 24, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    No way. Not drinking the Kook Aid just yet after 4 starts. HIs control is better so far and getting out of Yankee Stadium unscathed is a feat. But the Yanks haven’t been hitting at all lately and I’m not going to say Paulino’s problems are suddenly, magically fixed. His numbers check out pretty well though, save a strand rate of OVER 90% and a HR/FB of 4.8%. He has shaved his BB/9 by 1 each of the last three years so if that keeps up, he will be effective no doubt.

    • l0yalr0yal - May 24, 2012 at 1:54 PM

      Well, the post covers his last 20 starts. I’ll keep a glass ready for you.

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