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Royals choose Luis Mendoza over Bruce Chen for final rotation spot

Mar 26, 2013, 12:46 PM EDT

Kansas City's Mendoza delivers a pitch against Milwaukee in their MLB baseball game in Kansas City Reuters

Kansas City has decided on Luis Mendoza as the fifth starter, which means Bruce Chen is headed to the bullpen after leading the Royals in starts, wins, and innings last season. Of course, Chen wasn’t actually much good with a 5.07 ERA.

Luke Hochevar was previously shifted to the bullpen by the Royals, so by moving Chen there as well Kansas City is now paying $9 million to a pair of non-setup/closer relievers who both had an ERA above 5.00 last year.

As for Mendoza, he has a 4.97 ERA in 41 career starts, including a 4.19 ERA in 25 starts for the Royals last season. He’ll follow James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie, and Wade Davis in the rotation.

  1. sportsdrenched - Mar 26, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    I’m shocked they made this decision. But feel it’s the right decision. No way the Glass Family will eat those contracts on Chen & Hochevar and cut them loose. But if they did it would signal a welcome change in ownership thought process.

  2. js20011041 - Mar 26, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    I’m sorry, but this Royals team is going to be awful. James Shields will be good, but as we’ve seen with the Mariners and Felix Hernandez, one pitcher doesn’t matter. Guthrie might be league average. If they’re lucky, Santana is the same. But, at I believe $13 million this year, that’s a rather expensive gamble. Wade Davis simply isn’t that good. He’s signed to a long term, relatively cheap contract and the Rays chose to start Jeff Niemann over him. His upside is a league average starter. Then you’ve got the massive, gaping vortex of suck that is the fifth spot. Just take the context of this situation out of it. If any team is choosing between Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza for a rotation spot, would anyone think that team is a contender? For all the money and talent given up to fix this rotation, it’s a stretch to view this group as any better than league average. Unless the Royals have a 2012 Orloles level type of fluke year and win 56 out of 23 one run games, they aren’t going to the playoffs.

    • Paul White - Mar 26, 2013 at 3:12 PM

      Actually, most AL teams would be thrilled to have a guy who posted a 4.21 ERA in 25 starts as their #5 starter. And Wade Davis doesn’t have to be too good as a starter, because if he fails, they can slot him back to the bullpen, where he was dominant last year, as soon as either Danny Duffy or Felipe Paulino return midyear. Those two combined for a 2.62 ERA in 13 starts last year before getting hurt, and both are expected back by around June/July. They could also fasttrack Kyle Zimemr or Yordano Ventura. Or give Aaron Crow another shot at starting. Or trade some of their still-impressive minor league depth for a starter if they find themselves in contention at the trade deadline. In other words, they have quite a few options, far too many to claim the team will be “awful” when by your own admission they have league average or better starters at 1,2 and 3, to go along with a dominant bullpen.

  3. dkb1968 - Mar 26, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    If you just glance at that picture, does that not look like a young Fernando Valenzuela?

    • Jeremy Fox - Mar 26, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      A young right-handed Fernando?

    • unclemosesgreen - Mar 26, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      No, that does not even faintly resemble Fernando Valenzuela. Not close.

    • ethanallenhawley - Mar 26, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      in that they’re both mammals of the order homo sapiens? Yes.

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