A 3:05 Central Time start for the Royals as they take on a split-squad Cubs team at HoHoKam Park. The game will be shown on WGN live and MLB delayed if you want to tune in and, BONUS, word is you get to see Bruce Chen bat!
The Royals, split yesterday just to give other teams a chance, beat the Padres 7-5, but were in turn blasted by the Dodgers 8-1. The games featured starts to by two pitchers on the periphery of the 5th starter competition: Will Smith and Yordano Ventura.
Against the Padres, Smith was charged with just one earned run over four innings, but the Royals allowed five total runs in that time thanks to errors by Brandon Wood, Billy Butler (runner interference) and by Smith himself. All in all, Will threw 31 of his 46 pitches for strikes, struck out two and walked no one. As it was a split-squad game, your box score contains the names of a number of minor league players who are not actually in the major league camp.
This game also featured the first 'true' Luke Hochevar relief appearance. The enigmatic one turned in two clean innings of work, striking out two Padres along the way. Anyone else expecting this inevitable announcement from Ned Yost in about a week? "The plan all along was just to get Luke 'right' by working out of the pen. After looking so good in three relief appearances, we are convinced Hochy is ready to assume his rightful spot as our fifth starter"
The evening affair saw Ventura give up three runs and five hits over three innings of work (he struck out one). He also uncorked a wild pitch and hit a batter. The Dodger's $42 million Cuban free agent Yasiel Puig, caused much of the damage against Ventura with a two run homer in the first and a single in the third.
The Royals committed six errors total in the two games, but only two (Butler and Gordon) were made by players who are likely to be on the Opening Day Roster. That does not include a fly ball lost in the sun by Jeff Francoeur, by the way.
Speaking of the Opening Day roster, shortstop Alcides Escobar might play Sunday, or more likely Monday, as he recovers from a minor back something. I am actually going to believe the organization on this one when they say Escobar would be playing if this was the regular season (despite KC's penchant for having a minor injury turn into season ending all too often).
On the minor injury front, Billy Butler is apparently fine after tumbling into the dugout chasing a fly ball yesterday, while Wade Davis destroyed 12 Single-A batters yesterday (striking out half of them) with Salvador Perez behind the plate. Perez will be behind the dish in another minor league contest on Sunday as James Shields will be throwing against minor league hitters as well.
With Hochevar in the pen, I thought it might be useful to revisit a couple of articles from weeks past - all written prior to the move:
- Here's a look at the schedule with regard to how much/little the Royals will need a 5th starter in April.
- Jeff examined the Royals' starting pitching depth a few weeks back.
- Craig examined the battle for fifth scant days before Luke's demotion/promotion/shuffle to the pen.