It may not be all sweet and light for Yordano Ventura from here on out, but the Kansas City Royals pitcher may feel a bit better following Thursday’s game.
Ventura lasted six innings, walked two, and only struck out one against the St. Louis Cardinals, but that’s not half the story. For the first time since Apr. 25, Ventura walked off the mound a winner as the Royals scored a 3-2 victory. Ventura has been a hard-luck pitcher over his last five starts, but the truth is, not everything that went wrong was his fault. For starters, have you seen Kansas City’s hitting lately?
The Royals have been through six hitting coaches in two years and just transferred Pedro Grifol to catching instructor after his stint as hitting coach ended in disappointment. Under Dale Sveum, the team has responded better to instruction, but many of the players who the Royals’ front office hoped would hit have either underachieved or been mediocre.
That has cost Ventura some victories in his first full season — consider his outing May 15 against the Baltimore Orioles, when he struck out nine batters yet lost the game. Ventura had 10 strikeouts in a game earlier this season and came away with a no-decision.
Sure, not all of it can be blamed on hitting. Ventura gave up a combined nine earned runs in his last two losses against the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox, but he is essentially a rookie pitcher. All first-year starters will go through struggles at one point.
The numbers overall look good. Take away the 2-5 record (prior to Thursday) and you get a pitcher who has a 3.45 ERA, 19 walks and 59 strikeouts. This suggests Ventura has command and control of his pitches, for the most part. His ratio of strikeouts to walks is more than 3-to-1, and that alone suggests that Ventura may be headed in the right direction.
Barring injury, the Royals won’t give up on Ventura this easily. There is a chance James Shields will be gone at the trade deadline, and Bruce Chen may or may not return from a back injury that has hampered him this spring, which leaves a rotation with more questions than answers.
Right now, the answer on Ventura is he looks promising. The question is whether or not he is headed in the right direction.