The Kansas City Royals today claimed right handed pitcher Chris Volstad off waivers from the Chicago Cubs. Volstad has pitched in the major leagues for five years, all in the National League, and actually had a very good start to his career in 2008 when he went 6-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 15 games after being called up in early July. Since then it has been almost all downhill, however, as he has not had an ERA under 4.50 (in the National League, remember) in any season since. This year with the Cubs he went 3-12 with a 6.31 ERA and spent half the year at AAA where he was 3-5 with a 5.17 ERA.
It is unclear precisely what the Royals mean to accomplish with this move. Obviously they need starting pitching, but more specifically they need good starting pitching and Volstad has not fallen into that category since his rookie season. Presumably the Royals think that they have seen something ‘fixable’ in the way he is pitching like they did with Jeremy Guthrie and it is precisely because of that previous success (Guthrie was badly struggling before coming to Kansas City) that I am inclined to have faith in this decision. But the problem is that I highly doubt that they saw something to turn him into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher and that is the most pressing concern for the Royals. We need a pitcher who can win 15+ games with an ERA under 3.50 and I think the best case scenario with Volstad is someone who can get ten to twelve wins with an ERA above four.
We will find out in March and of course there is no need to him to pitch higher than AAA if it turns out he is not good enough. But what I worry is that he may simply turn out to be another fourth or fifth starter and the Royals already have an abundance of those.