Despite a sense around here that the Royals have no rotation for next year, some recent developments--the acquisition and success of Paulino and indications from the FO that Crow will be a starter--have given Royals fans a pretty good idea of the shape of the 2012 rotation.
t least to start 2012, the following are likely to be in the rotation:
Barring injury, Paulino, Duffy and Hochevar are almost locks to make the rotation, and I'd give Crow at least a 75% likelihood. There's an off chance that the Royals find 2 more starters they like better than Crow and don't give Crow a full shot, and there's a similarly small chance that Crow bombs so hard in spring training that they give up on him early.
So how does that rotation core look in terms of contending in 2012?
I think Paulino and Duffy will be above-average starters in 2012 while Hochevar and Crow will likely be somewhere below average. Meanwhile, the offense should be above-average to good (it's roughly average right now, and with every single contributor being 27 or younger, you'd expect a little improvement across the board) and the bullpen will be good.
If you could add an ace-caliber pitcher to the rotation, the group looks very competitive. I'd be fine with Paulino as our #2, Duffy as our #3, and Hochevar/Crow rounding out the back of the rotation. But if you throw Chen in there instead, the rotation is again weighted toward the back end.
So my question is: how good of a pitcher would the Royals have to add to these four starters in order to have a good shot at winning the AL Central?