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Looking back on Jeremy Guthrie's Royals career

We are nearing the end of the road with J-Guts.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

With Tuesday night's debacle piling onto an already poor season from Jeremy Guthrie, it looks like we may be near the end of the line for "J-Guts" in a Royals uniform. The Royals hold a $10 million mutual option on Guthrie for 2016 they will almost certainly decline, instead opting to pay the $3.2 million buyout. Let's take a look back at Guthrie's career in Royals blue.

Jeremy was originally drafted by the Indians in the first round out of Stanford in 2002 but failed to stick with their Major League Club and was claimed off waivers by the Orioles in 2007. He made himself into a serviceable starting pitcher in Baltimore, posting a 4.12 ERA, good enough for a 107 ERA+ in five seasons. He was not a front-of-the-rotation guy, and twice he led the league in losses and once in home runs allowed, but he took the ball every five days and gave the team 200 innings or more in three consecutive seasons.

Baltimore traded Guthrie before the 2012 season to Colorado for pitcher Jason Hammel and reliever Matt Lindstrom, a trade that turned out to be disastrous for the Rockies. Guthrie had a 6.35 ERA in 19 games with Colorado, although he had a respectable 3.67 ERA away from Coors Field. The Royals had a disappointing new pitcher of their own in Jonathan Sanchez, so the two teams were able to work out a deal exchanging each other's disappointment.he deal ended up being a huge winner for the Royals.

Guthrie was terrific down the stretch for the Royals with a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts, improving his strikeout rate, walk rate, and home run rate in a Royals uniform. In those two months he put up 1.5 fWAR, nearly as much as he had put up in a full season with Baltimore the year before.

Guthrie was a free agent at the end of that season, and the Royals had a decision to make. They could walk away with house money, or they could decide to commit to a 34-year old Guthrie on a multi-year deal. Guthrie was looking for a three-year deal, something the Royals were said to be unwilling to do, but eventually the two sides settled on a three-year, $25 million contract. A year later, the two sides agreed to restructure the deal to defer some money to 2016.

Jeremy won 15 games his first full season with the Royals, but with a 4.04 ERA and a 4.79 FIP. It was the tenth-highest ERA in the league among qualified starters and the highest FIP. His problem was he couldn't miss bats - his 4.7 strikeouts-per-nine innings was the worst mark among qualified American League starters. His 1.1 rWAR was the seventh-lowest by a 15-game winner in the American League starter in the last 20 years.

Guthrie won fewer games but pitched better in 2014. He went 13-11, but improved his strikeout rate to 5.54 per-nine-innings as well as his FIP (4.32). By WAR, he was a one WAR pitcher, not worth a $25 million contract, but not terrible either. Guthrie finished strong with a 2.40 ERA in September, including seven shutout innings in the Royals' post-season clinching win over the White Sox. In the clubhouse, he was the one giving pep talks to lead the young Royals on their magical post-season run.

That strong finish carried over to the post-season where he gave five solid innings, allowing one run in Game Three of the ALCS. After the game, he got brushback for his t-shirt, which was accused of mocking his former team, the Orioles, leading to a heartfelt apology. Guthrie started twice in the World Series, giving up two runs in five innings in a Game Three win, and allowing three runs in less than four innings in the pivotal Game Seven.

Jeremy was lauded for being an "innings-eater" which is a bit of back-handed compliment. The term generally refers to a pitcher that isn't all that great, but that shows up and gives his team six innings, even if they aren't great innings. Its the participation trophy of pitching. But that's not to say eating innings doesn't have any value, it does. And for two years, Guthrie was pretty good at giving his team innings. From 2013-2014, the average American League starting pitcher averaged 5.90 inning- per-start, Guthrie averaged 6.37. Out of 84 starting pitchers to throw 300 innings as a starter over that time, Guthrie was 30th in innings-per-start. He also ranked 67th out of all of those pitchers in ERA, at 4.08.

Things all fell apart for Jeremy in 2015. The first eight starts were "Guthrie-esque", not great, but not terrible, with Guthrie usually going 5-6 innings, giving up 3-4 runs. In New York, he was absolutely bombed. Jeremy righted the ship for a few starts but when Kris Medlen began to establish his effectiveness out of the bullpen, the writing was on the wall. In late August he was demoted to the bullpen. Overall, Jeremy has made 103 starts as a Royals, going 41-37 with a 4.38 ERA and 2.1 fWAR. He has just 0.6 fWAR since signing his $25 million contract.

Jeremy has been a model citizen, an exemplary teammate, and the epitome of what a fan-friendly ballplayer should be like. In a way, he's not unlike former Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur, a very likeable, high-character guy you wished was better at baseball. I would be thrilled to see Jeremy stay in the organization in some capacity - coach, front office executive, scout, broadcaster. But I don't think anyone wants to see him pitch in a Royals uniform anymore.

Best of luck Jeremy.