Get to know a stop-gap starter - Vol. 2: Luis Mendoza

Back so soon with volume 2; that's not good. Neither is Luis Mendoza.


[Sadly, the effectiveness of Mendoza starts depends entirely on whether plays like this are outs or hits. ]

Mendoza burst* onto the professional baseball scene in 2006 with the Boston Red Sox, zig-zag-zig-zagging his way through the Red Sox and Rangers minor leagues in 2006 and 2007, somehow ending the 2007 campaign on the Texas major league roster where he appeared in 6 games, making 3 starts, and picking up 1 win with a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings of work. How a guy make 3 starts AND 3 relief appearances and only picks up 16 innings is a little bit beyond me, but that is the enigma that is Mendoza. He was surely offered a 5 year, $14 million contract like Matt Moore**, but told his agent to hold out for "Zito Dinero"***. However, his 3.94 K/9, 2.25 BB/9, 4.30 FIP and.240 BABIP surely foretold of darker days ahead.

In 2008, he started out**** in AA with Texas, and pitched horribly in one start, lasting only one and a third innings, striking out 1, walking 2, and giving up a run. Inexpicably, he was promoted to AAA, where he continued to struggle, sporting a 5.14 ERA (but a 3.17 FIP largely due to only giving up HRs at a .26 HR/9 clip) with a 4.89 K/9 rate and a 2.06 BB/9 rate in 8 starts. Even more inexplicably, he was promoted to the majors in mid-season, where he sucked. Period. But the Ranger kept him up for 11 starts and 14 more relief appearances. He ended his second go-around with a 8.67 ERA, 4.97 K/9, 3.55 BB/9, but a 4.93 FIP.

In 2009, he sucked some more, mostly in triple AAA. He pitched 1 inning of one game in the majors, during which he game up 2 hits, 1 BB and 1 HR.

In 2010, Mendoza came into Dayton Moore's life and has coquette-ishly teased him ever since. Nobody at this blog apparently cared though, since I can't find any record of his signing. Anyhow, he opened the 2010 season in KC where he pitched in 4 games...poorly. He posted a 22.50 ERA (but only a 17.83 FIP) in 4 innings, while giving up 4 HRs, 3BBs and striking out 1. He was sent down to Omaha, which Jeff Zimmerman recapped as:

04/28/10 Kansas City Royals outrighted RHP Luis Mendoza to Omaha Royals. @I really can't believe he cleared waivers@

(story here, if you dare re-visit the transaction log of Royals roster moves in 2010)

For the rest of 2010, he continued to pitch. Moving along.

Then 2011 happened, and the hunter became the hunted*****. Mendoza had great results in AAA, which he later credited to "Omaha pitching coach Doug Henry who broke down Mendoza's delivery" and "adjustd his arm angle to release the ball on a higher plane which gave his fastball a little more sink." (link)

The results showed up in a 12-5 record over 18 starts and 15 relief appearances, with a 2.18 ERA and a 3.80 FIP. The peripheral showed modest improvement as he raised his K/9 up to 5.05 and maintained his BB/9 at 3.37 (near his career average). At the end of the year, he got his yearly cup of coffee in September and shined in his two starts, earning 2 WINZ, and sporting a 1.23 ERA and 3.50 FIP in 14.2 innings. He didn't give up any HRs, and struck out 4.30 per 9 while only walking 3.07 per 9.

He was an interesting candidate going into 2012, as only Hoch, Chen and Sanchez had seemed to lock up roster spots, with Duffy, Paulino and Mendoza seemingly batting for the 4th and 5th spots. Paulino and Mendoza could not be sent to AAA without clearing waivers (which they would not clear) so the Royals were in a titanic-level conundrum. Mendoza shined in spring training, causing one writer to proclaim that "These Royals Don't Stink", and seemed poised to wrestle a spot away from Paulino. Then Paulino went to the DL with a sore forearm - disaster averted?

He's made 4 starts and 2 relief appearance for KC in 2012, pitching a grand total of 28.1 innings, in which he's posted a 4.76 ERA and a 4.88 FIP, which really isn't that bad. His 4.13 K/9 and 5.72 BB/9 rates are awful, but his .64 HR/9 rate and 52.9% groundball percentage are indicative of how he can be effective. Which is to say, Mendoza is going to throw a lot of balls towards home plate, and hope they cross the plate and sink. Then he's gonna hope that the batter hits the ball at a fielder. Then he's gonna hope that the defense makes the plays. If the balls don't cross the plate, or if they don't sink, or if they don't get hit at fielders, or if the fielders don't make the plays, Mendoza is gonna have trouble. He just doesn't have the stuff like most pitchers to create his own @"luck"@ and strike guys out.

So, don't lose all hope when Mendoza toes the rubber tomorrow, but keep your eye on the ball cuz it will be moving all over the diamond.


*Mendoza didn't "burst" onto anything, except in the same way that Gload explodes or Getz stings...which is to say, not at all.

** This did not happen.

*** This might have happened.

****On further review, I don't know where he started and where he ended the year, but I already typed the paragraph, and I'm not going back to edit it. Deal with my revisionist history.

*****This doesn't make sense, but it sounds cool, so go with it.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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