The Kansas City Royals had a remarkable 2013, but despite their success, numerous spots on the roster made their need for improvement apparent. A little more productivity from either the offense or the starting rotation may have brought the franchise to its first playoff berth in decades instead of leaving fans to determinedly look forward for future success. This year, the starting five will be without the contributions of Ervin Santana, who made for a dominant duo when coupled with James Shields last year.
Even without Santana, KC’s starting rotation still has room to improve overall from last season, believe it or not. While switching Santana with Jason Vargas in the rotation is an inarguable downgrade, last season’s struggles from the No. 5 starter spot leaves KC room to get better in 2014.
Luis Mendoza posted a 5.01 ERA in 12 starts last year. His appearances as a reliever did little to improve that bloated figure, and his 5.36 total ERA is the highest of anyone to throw a pitch for KC in 2013. Davis, however, posted an even higher ERA as a starter (5.67.) He was also on a longer leash thanks to his freshly inked contract with the team. Davis’ struggles continued through 24 starts while Mendoza finished out the year with 15 starts of his own.
With at least five guys contending for the No. 5 spot this year, contribution from that role is bound to improve. Among the possibilities are young, live arms like the ready-to-emerge Danny Duffy, the naturally gifted Yordano Ventura and the overly hyped, albeit promising Kyle Zimmer.
Add the more seasoned arms in Brad Penny and the returning Davis, and you have what sets ups as a very interesting race for that all-important five spot. We’ll have more on that race for the final starter spot throughout Spring Training, which mercifully begins this Thursday. Three more days, folks. Be excited.