With the Royals officially clinching a post-season spot with the American League Central Division title, they can look forward to October. They will have the opportunity this week to juggle their rotation to get the starting pitching staff on schedule for their assigned starts in the post-season. The question is - who will start when?
The post-season rotation will consist of Johnny Cueto, Kris Medlen, Yordano Ventura, and Edinson Volquez. Here's when they're scheduled to pitch the rest of the season.
|Monday, September 28
|Tuesday, September 29
|Wednesday, September 30
|Thursday, October 1
|Friday, October 2
|Saturday, October 3
|Sunday, October 4
|Monday, October 5
|Tuesday, October 6
|Wednesday, October 7
|Thursday, October 8
My best guess is that Johnny Cueto will not make that October 4 start, leaving it to Jeremy Guthrie or Miguel Almonte. Cueto would then presumably start Game One of the American League Divisional Series on October 8 on plenty of rest. Although he has slumped with some lousy starts in September, he has looked much better in his last two outings and has the track record of being an ace-type pitcher. Some have suggested that perhaps managers should game rotations to avoid aces face each other, essentially giving away one game to ensure success in another. However, there really is no conceivable way he does not start the first game, it is precisely the reason Dayton Moore acquired him.
After that its a bit of a mystery. Yordano Ventura is the best bet to start Game Two, as he's been the Royals best pitcher in the second half. Yordano has a 2.83 ERA over his last nine starts with 64 strikeouts in 54 innings. He has the best post-season experience out of all of the starters, as he's the only one with a career post-season ERA under five (3.20).
Edinson "Steady Eddie" Volquez has not been so steady in September with an ERA of 6.00. Kris Medlen has not been much better at 5.06 for the month, although he did have an impressive six shutout inning start a few outings ago. The home ballpark may be a consideration as well. Having a ground ball pitcher like Yordano Ventura start on the road in Game Three might make more sense if the Royals end up having to play in a bandbox like Houston's Minute Maid Park or Yankee Stadium.
The starting pitching staff has been a weakness on the Royals all season, so it is important that Ned Yost uses them to maximize their talents in the best situations. How he chooses to handle the order of the rotation could mean the difference between advancing to the ALCS or a first-round exit.
How would you set up the rotation?