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May 10, 2011

Transaction Analysis Blog

Mazzaro Moves In

by R.J. Anderson

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Kansas City Royals
Place SP Bruce Chen on 15-day disabled list. [5/10]
Promote SP Vin Mazzaro from Triple-A Omaha. [5/10]

Good news, Mazzaro—you’re going back to the show. Bad news, Mazzaro—you have to face the Yankees in New York. It’s weird to think Mazzaro is making his regular season debut for the Royals in the second week of May, but credit Kansas City for not throwing him into a battle he was ill-prepared to fight just for appearances sake.

While giving props for K.C.'s patience, one has to wonder if making Mazzaro the big piece in the David DeJesus deal already looks like a misevaluation.  Mazzaro made five starts in Triple-A and continued to puzzle onlookers as he allowed nearly five earned runs per nine innings pitched and struck out only two batters for every walk he allowed. The telltale signs of a pitching savant those ratios are not, however the Royals made the right call to replace the injured Chen with Mazzaro instead of rushing one of their prized prospects.

Counting Mazzaro out as a possible contributor would be a mistake too. He fits the mold of a typical power pitcher with a sinker that can run near the mid-90s and a worthwhile slider. Yet, Mazzaro’s results often feel vapid when juxtaposed with his stuff. The Royals talked up Mazzaro’s command and pitchability—check out Jason Parks’ most recent article for what that entails—but eventually the tools have to lead to results.

Mazzaro was fanning more than a batter per inning pitched in Triple-A, so perhaps the Royals can excavate his potential as a middle of the rotation arm on the fly. At worst, Mazzaro could knock the woeful Kyle Davies out of the rotation sooner than later. While there is a chance that Mazzaro becomes a Davies clone, the chance of him becoming better than Davies also exists, and it’s probably one worth taking.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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