February 27, 2013
Royals general manager Dayton Moore focused this offseason on improving a rotation that last year ranked 26th in the majors with a 5.01 aggregate ERA. Three of the team’s five projected starters—James Shields, Ervin Santana, and Wade Davis—are newcomers, and a fourth, Jeremy Guthrie, came over from the Rockies last July. Whether the revamped quintet can do enough to help Kansas City leap forward from its 72-90 finish remains to be seen. But one thing is already clear: After throwing Vin Mazzaro and Ryan Verdugo to the wolves in 2012, manager Ned Yost won’t lack for options in 2013.
In fact, come summertime, the fourth-year skipper might boast a surplus of dependable starters. While other teams are likely to wade into the trade waters for rotation upgrades in July, the Royals are poised to get their reinforcements from within.
Royals on track to get a midseason rotation boost
Each of the rehabbing arms could become an X-factor for the Royals, if they are somehow able to tread water in the wild-card race for the first three months.
Paulino, whom Moore snagged from the Rockies for cash considerations in May of 2011, produced 1.8 WARP for the Royals over 21 appearances (20 starts) after the lopsided trade. The 29-year-old was on his way to a career year last spring, sporting a 1.67 ERA and 39 strikeouts through 37 2/3 innings, when his ulnar collateral ligament went “pop.” PECOTA projects Paulino to contribute only replacement-level work in six starts once he is ready to come off the disabled list, but if the strides that he has made since joining the Royals endure the year-long hiatus, he could be worth a good deal more than that.
Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Duffy also showed marked improvements from his rocky 2011 debut, recording 28 strikeouts and a 3.90 ERA in 27 2/3 frames before his UCL snapped. Earlier this winter, Hudson Belinsky ranked Duffy as the Royals’ eighth-best under-25 talent, placing him immediately behind catcher Salvador Perez, and two years ago, Kevin Goldstein envisioned him as “a good mid-rotation starter.” If Duffy can slide in behind Shields and Guthrie and quickly regain the stuff that he flashed last April, the Royals have the potential to be a second-half force.