I tend to try to see things in the simplest terms, seeking the simplest answers. This leads me to this simple analysis of why the Royals starting rotation has been SO bad this year:
Average Ks per 9 IPs, AL starters: 6.37
Royals starters: 4.75
13th and 12th in this category in the AL: 5.64 (Min) and 5.74 (Cle)
Only Duffy (7.52), Paulino (7.20, but only 1 start), and Davies (6.37) have managed to match the AL average - everybody else is worse, including some ridiculously low figures (O'Sullivan 3.10; Hochevar 4.18)
It's simply too hard to succeed with these kind of strikeout rates. You would have to have a DER of, say 725 or so, to turn a staff this lacking in strikeouts into a successful rotation.
This leads me to my final point: Is this simply the Royals reluctance to try some of their bullpen arms in the rotation, seeing as how most of them might be capable of higher K rates? Or is it symptomatic of a bigger problem; i.e., the organization's ill-conceived strategy of preaching "pitch to contact" as the solution for any and all pitching woes? (Because, you know, it most decidedly is NOT the solution. If you can strike people out, for chrissakes the organization should be ENCOURAGING that)