Friday, April 29, 2011

Rotation issues

If a person were to draw up a disastrous road trip I imagine it would look an awful lot like Kansas City's 6 game swing through Texas and Cleveland. The Royals, outscored 46-22, were of course swept twice. The pitching, the rotation in particular, was abysmal posting a 7.88 ERA. The offense managed a meager .297 OBP and the clutch hits which had been so frequent in the early going were nonexistent. When pitching and offense fail at the same time the results are never good, as the last week can unfortunately attest.

As I mentioned earlier the rotation was terrible, actually terrible may not adequately describe the sheer amount of suck we were witness to, but really, how many words exist that do?

Player Date Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR
Jeff Francis 2011-04-22 TEX L 6-11 4.0 9 6 5 1 2 2
Kyle Davies 2011-04-23 TEX L 1-3 6.0 4 3 2 1 3 0
Bruce Chen 2011-04-24 TEX L 7-8 4.1 7 6 6 3 2 3
Luke Hochevar 2011-04-26 CLE L 4-9 6.1 11 6 6 1 3 3
Jeff Francis 2011-04-27 CLE L 2-7 3.0 10 6 5 0 1 0
Kyle Davies 2011-04-28 CLE L 2-8 3.1 9 8 8 1 4 4
Totals

0-6 27 50 35 32 715 12
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used

To break it down even further:

  • 4.5 IP/per start
  • 16.67 H/9
  • 10.67 ERA
  • 2.11 WHIP
  • 4.0 HR/9
  • 5.0 SO/9
Gross.

I may have been too optimistic before the season when I casually dismissed the historically bad descriptions of the rotation. I opined they had the potential to be historically league average, or the very least, historically serviceable. I guess it was that optimism that ignored Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies being two of the worst starting pitchers in major league history. I expected Davies to be Davies but I believed Hochevar was on the verge of figuring things out. I was clearly wrong.

Just looking at their numbers I guess I should've seen this coming, but for some reason, I didn't. Here are four lists of guys who've pitched at least 400 innings since 2008, Hochevar and Davies are featured prominently, as is former Royal Brian Bannister and current Omaha Storm Chaser Jeff Suppan. It's not pretty.

Rk Player ERA+ IP
1 Luke Hochevar 76 413.0
2 Brian Bannister 78 464.1
3 Manny Parra 79 428.0
4 Jeff Suppan 81 440.2
5 Kevin Correia 81 486.2
6 Fausto Carmona 82 493.0
7 Kyle Davies 83 449.0
8 Livan Hernandez 85 614.1
9 David Bush 86 481.2
10 Zach Duke 87 557.0
Rk Player WHIP IP
1 Manny Parra 1.659 428.0
2 Jeff Suppan 1.623 440.2
3 Kyle Davies 1.539 449.0
4 Fausto Carmona 1.499 493.0
5 LIvan Hernandez 1.491 614.1
6 Brian Bannister 1.490 464.1
7 Kevin Millwood 1.475 558.0
8 Zach Duke 1.472 557.0
9 Gil Meche 1.451 401.0
10 Jason Marquis 1.445 467.0
11 Luke Hochevar 1.443 413.0
Rk Player brWAR IP
1 Manny Parra -3.1 428.0
2 Jeff Suppan -3.0 440.2
3 Luke Hochevar -1.2 413.0
4 Kevin Correia -1.2 486.2
5 David Bush -1.1 481.2
6 Fausto Carmona -0.8 493.0
7 Brian Bannister -0.5 464.1
8 Kyle Lohse 0.3 448.0
9 Scott Feldman 0.9 482.1
10 Aaron Harang 1.7 488.1
11 Kyle Davies 1.8 449.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used

Rk Player QS% IP
1 Manny Parra 0.333% 428.0
2 Jeff Suppan 0.368% 440.2
3 Brian Bannister 0.383% 464.1
4 Luke Hochevar 0.386% 413.0
5 Jonathan Sanchez 0.396% 542.2
6 Scott Kazmir 0.402% 451.1
7 Kyle Davies 0.407% 449.0
8 Daisuke Matsuzaka 0.414% 402.2
9 Kevin Slowey 0.437% 410.1
10 Armando Galarraga 0.444% 487.2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used

It's even worse when you consider that Sean O'Sullivan would be placed firmly in all four lists had he enough innings to qualify (150.1 IP, 77 ERA+, 1.463 WHIP, 0.0 WAR, 34.6 QS% ). O'Sullivan, to his credit, has been solid in his 2 starts but who knows if that can continue.

So what should the Royals do with the rotation?

Fortunately they do have some depth in this areas. Now should they feel the need to make a change, I'd prefer they didn't panic and promote Michael Montgomery and Danny Duffy just yet, but Vin Mazzaro and Everett Teaford are certainly options. Suppan is there too, but you know, see above. They could also stretch Aaron Crow out to see what he can do, though I find that scenario unlikely.

The point is, they have to do something, because the status quo isn't working. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hochevar and Davies


For the first time since he was drafted #1 overall in 2006 I'm having doubts that Luke Hochevar will ever "get it". In fact, right now, I don't even believe he's better than the much maligned Kyle Davies. That's hard for me to admit, because as most of you know, I've been a big Hochevar supporter since he was drafted.

Looking at their stats since the start of the 2008 season and it's fairly obvious who's been the better pitcher.

GS W L IP BB SO ERA ERA+ WHIP SO/9 brWAR
Luke Hochevar 70 21 34 413.0 138 277 5.71 76 1.443 6.0 -0.7
Kyle Davies 80 26 30 445.2 198 302 5.05 85 1.528 6.1 2.3

Of course Davies has the edge because of his 2008 season in which he put up a 108 ERA+, but even if you just look at 2009-2011 he still has the lower ERA (5.38 compared to 5.80). Now Davies is miscast as a #3 but as a #5 he would appear to be perfectly acceptable. He's certainly no world beater and I'm not saying a team can win with him at the back of the rotation, however I'm not saying a team can't either. There are worse options.

One of which, unfortunately, is Hochevar. He has been maddeningly consistent in his inconsistency. In his last 7.1 innings he has given up 16 hits and 12 earned runs, and that came immediately after a stretch of 10.1 perfect innings. He literally goes from good to bad in the blink of an eye. That 76 ERA+, by the way, is the absolute worst in baseball (min. 400 IP) in that time period, so obviously there's more bad than good going on.

Here's a start breakdown between the two pitchers and how often they pitch a game in each category. Like above, these are starts since 2008.

Start Hochevar Davies
Quality 27 (38.6%) 33 (41.3%)
4+ ER 39 (55.7%) 29 (36.3%)
5+ ER 23 (32.9%) 17 (21.3%)
6+ ER 16 (22.9%) 11 (13.8%)

Well it's certainly clear why the Royals are 27-43 when Hochevar starts and 40-40 when Davies starts, don't you think?

Going forward, I really don't believe either one will be in the rotation next year, or maybe even in the second half of this year. When two of the worst pitchers in baseball comprise 40% of the rotation something has to be done. The Royals can probably get away with one of them starting every fifth day, but not both, not if they're striving to be competitive. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Here we go again.....

They've just completed the 5th inning in Cleveland and Grady Sizemore is at it again. He's been on base three times with 2 doubles and a hit by pitch. To reiterate the closing sentence from my last post, I'll be glad when he's no longer in the AL Central.

Luke Hochevar has given up 3 home runs in 5 innings, that's now 9 on the year in 36.2 innings. Last year he only gave up 9 in 103 innings. So the obvious question must be asked - why are we so sure he's better than Kyle Davies? Just something to think about.

Update - Sizemore added a 2 run home run and Hochevar ended up allowing 6 earned runs for the second consecutive start.

That darn Sizemore

One of the players I always dread Kansas City facing is Grady Sizemore and it's because he just seems to have his way with the Royals. This was on display last week when he hit .400/.471/.533 in the four game series. I always suspected his career numbers against KC were better than his overall numbers (.273/.363/.479/.842) but I'd never looked. Well now I've looked, and yeah, they are. Dread justified.

Year PA HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
2004 41 2 7 .361 .439 .611 1.050
2005 89 4 18 .367 .427 .582 1.009
2006 82 6 13 .288 .366 .644 1.010
2007 83 2 5 .227 .386 .424 .810
2008 83 7 20 .355 .410 .724 1.133
2009 52 2 8 .190 .320 .381 .701
2010 14 0 1 .231 .286 .231 .516
2011 17 0 2 .400 .471 .533 1.004
Totals 461 23 73 .305 .392 .563 .955

You can pretty much toss out the last two seasons as injuries limited his playing time and effectiveness. When healthy, he feasts on Royals pitching. Except Kyle Davies that is, which just seems illogical.

Here's how he's fared against current Royals.

PA HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Kyle Davies 20 1 1 1 4 .211 .250 .474 .724
Luke Hochevar 15 1 1 4 0 .182 .400 .545 .945
Joakim Soria 8 0 0 2 0 .500 .625 .667 1.292
Sean O'Sullivan 3 0 1 0 1 .667 .667 .667 1.333
Jeremy Jeffress 1 0 0 1 0 1.000
Blake Wood 1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 48 2 3 8 5 .275 .396 .525 .921
I'm reasonably certain that if I was an Indians fan he'd be my favorite player, but I'm not, so he's not. I'm even more certain that I'll be one happy camper when he leaves the AL Central.