Opening day is just three days away, so now’s the time to start sizing up the competition. The Kansas City Royals hope to take another step forward this year with entry to the postseason, but they have at least two competitive divisional opponents standing in their way. We’ve made mention before of the budding Detroit Tigers rivalry, so now we’ll look to the AL Central‘s other viable threat.
Cleveland Indians fans haven’t had much to cheer about since the Jim Thome era in the 90s. Last year was a somewhat different story, with Cleveland beating out KC and others for a spot in the one-game Wild Card playoff. After losing that game to the Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland joins the Royals this year in their hopes to improve upon last season’s success.
While the Royals seem well-prepared to take that next step, the Indians took some hits to their roster that could really cost them in 2014. We’ll compare the Indians with the Royals in several ways throughout this week, but for now, let’s focus on one of the Indians’ many pitching problems.
Two of last year’s most integral Indians starters, Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, left Cleveland this offseason. Guys like Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco will inevitably struggle to fill the void in the starting rotation. If the Indians will be relying on Carrasco to be a better-than-average MLB starter in order to get back to the postseason, fans in Kansas City can rest assured that their pitching staff gives them the edge.
Ubaldo’s 3.30 ERA last year was the team’s best for anyone with more than 10 starts. Kazmir posted a less noteworthy ERA of 4.04, but only one Indian (Ubaldo) started more games in 2013. Sources say Carrasco will earn one of the rotation spots left open by Kazmir and Jimenez’s departure, and that cannot be good news for Cleveland fans.
In his only season with more than 47 innings pitched, Carrasco recorded a 4.60 ERA. In less than 240 innings, Carrasco’s career total ERA rests at 5.29. Cleveland fans don’t even have a positive Spring Training output to look at for hope; in his 15 2-3 innings this spring, Carrasco allowed 24 hits and recorded a 5.17 ERA.
Now, just for chuckles, compare that kind of output to what we’ve seen from the guy who earned KC’s final rotation spot. Yordano Ventura has a 1.77 ERA through 20 1-3 Cactus League innings pitched, and he’s thrown at least four innings without allowing more than a run in each of his last three outings. Those numbers do little to properly express the fact that Ventura looks ridiculously good right now, so just assume that the possible Rookie of the Year here can outmatch whatever Carrasco can provide this season.
For that comparison, you can clearly score one for the good guys (if you’re a Royals fan). Stay tuned to see how KC matches up against the rest of the Cleveland crew.