Luis Mendoza Named to Rotation; Chen to the Pen

Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

The rotation gets better and the bullpen gets funnier. Everyone wins.

The Royals made it official today, naming Luis Mendoza as the fifth starter, and demoting Bruce Chen to the bullpen, pulling him from his scheduled start today.

The 35 year-old Chen will be owed $4.5 million this year, the last of a two-year deal. He was 11-14 with a 5.07 ERA last season, leading the team in starts and innings pitched. He had struggled in spring training with a 7.90 ERA in 13 2/3 innings with an amazing seven home runs given up.

The 29 year-old Mendoza was named the 2011 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year before going 8-10 with a 4.23 in 30 games last year for the Royals. He averaged just 5.6 strikeouts per nine, while walking 3.2, but relies on his sinking action to induce groundballs at a rate of over 50%. Originally signed by the Red Sox, Mendoza has bounced around the league, with Dayton acquiring him in April of 2010 from the Rangers for cash. Mendoza has given up just one run in eleven innings of spring training ball.

The pitching staff now looks like this:

Rotation

RHP James Shields

RHP Jeremy Guthrie

RHP Ervin Santana

RHP Wade Davis

RHP Luis Mendoza

Bullpen

RHP Kelvin Herrera

RHP Greg Holland

LHP Tim Collins

RHP Aaron Crow

RHP Luke Hochevar

LHP Bruce Chen

The last spot in the bullpen appears to be down to:

RHP J.C. Gutierrez

RHP Dan Wheeler

LHP Donnie Joseph

LHP Francisely Bueno

Gutierrez and Bueno are out of options, Wheeler must be added to the 40 man roster. Knowing the emphasis on "inventory", it would appear Gutierrez has the inside track. Will any teams contact the Royals about acquiring Bruce Chen? They'd better be prepared to pay the price!

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