From the Kansas City Star, we have the tentative pitching lineups for the first round of Spring Training games:
Feb: 27: Bruce Chen, Danny Duffy, Donnie Joseph, Cory Wade, Guillermo Mota, Scott Alexander, Kelvin Herrera.
Feb. 28: James Shields, Chris Dwyer, Jason Adam, Sugar Ray Marimon, Everett Teaford, Michael Mariot, Tim Collins.
March 1: Jason Vargas, Brad Penny, Aaron Brooks, Aaron Crow, Greg Holland, Jon Rauch.
March 2: Wade Davis, Yordano Ventura, John Lamb, Francisley Bueno, P.J. Walters.
March 3: Jeremy Guthrie, Luke Hochevar, Justin Marks, Louis Coleman.
What can be learned from this? Almost nothing at all.
You can pretty much count on Bruce Chen and Danny Duffy swapping spots for the next game and likely the same for Wade Davis and Yordano Ventura. I will bet over 100 nickels that Brad Penny gets a 'B' game start pretty early on and so on and so on. It is early, early spring training, after all.
In my mind (the logical side), I still find it difficult to believe that Bruce Chen is a 'lock' for the fourth spot in the starting rotation behind Shields, Vargas and Guthrie. Of course, in my mind (the artsy side), the Royals are still going to swoop in and sign Ervin Santana.
Let's assume, just for once, that Chen is not a lock and that the Royals have a battle royale - if you will - of Chen, Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar (negative snark points for anyone who brings up Chris Dwyer). The winners and losers of the above battle will then slop into the battle for the last two spots in the bullpen.
Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and, I would think, Louis Coleman are five already in the pen. I would be perfectly content to throw Davis and Hochevar into the mix and call it good. You want to maximize effectiveness right out of the gate? That's where those two pitchers belong. Deep down, I have to believe Dayton Moore and Ned Yost know that as well and this is all a little dance they are doing to make everyone feel better.
Sure, maybe we are all a little curious to see if either of those two can turn that one last corner, but my curiosity is outweighed by the desire to get off to a good start in April and avoid an 8-20 May this year. I don't know what I would personally need to see out of Davis or Hochevar this spring to make me think they were rotation worthy - I'm not sure I would believe anything that happens would erase the memory of a lot of not very good starts from the past.
Spring Training can be a powerful mirage. Beware, faithful Royals fans. Beware.