Before the 2014 MLB season began, there was a competition for the last spot in the Kansas City Royals‘ starting rotation. The two front-runners were Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy with Ventura eventually taking it. This competition should have been for the last two spots in the rotation with Bruce Chen as a possibility rather than the automatic starter he was made after he re-signed with the Royals.
Chen is no stranger to the bullpen and performed pretty well out of it last season before moving to the rotation. It’s strange that Kansas City gave the 36-year-old the job without having to earn it over Duffy. Chen has put together a 4.53 ERA over his career with a WHIP of 1.37. He’s only had one season in his career in which he threw for over 140 innings and kept his ERA under 4.00.
Chen is not getting any younger and has struggled early on this season. The Royals could do a lot worse for their No. 4 starter, but they could also do a lot better. On Friday, Chen was placed on the 15-day DL due to a bulging disc in his back and Duffy took his spot in the rotation. The Royals should keep their rotation the way it is when Chen returns.
Kansas City needs to tap into as much untapped potential as possible if they want to compete in the AL Central this season. The way to do that is to give Duffy a real shot as a starting pitcher. He has been inconsistent in his young career but has proven he’s capable of brilliant pitching. On Saturday, he was eased into the rotation with a four-inning start in which he allowed just one run on two hits and four walks in a losing effort to the Detroit Tigers.
The AL Central returns two playoff teams from last season, and if the Royals want to be one of them this season, they need to take a few chances. Kansas City will never have the payroll that the Tigers have, so they will need to get creative and shoot for some upside when possible. Leaving Duffy in the rotation is the perfect opportunity to do that.