Ned Yost tweaked the Royals starting rotation a bit this week. As a result, James Shields is now in a position to be the starter should the team be forced to play a 163rd game on Monday, Sept. 29.
Shields also would be set up to pitch a wild-card game on Tuesday, Sept. 30, or the first game of the American League Division Series that week.
More immediately, the Royals now will have left-hander Jason Vargas open the big series starting Friday with Detroit at Kauffman Stadium. Jeremy Guthrie, who normally would have started Friday, has been pushed to Sunday. I understand the thinking behind Yost’s slight adjustment. When it comes to putting Shields in a position to be available for critical games, I’m all for it. When it comes to this upcoming series against Detroit, however, why…in God’s name why…couldn’t he have gone Vargas, Shields and Duffy?
I’m well aware that Danny Duffy is just coming off a shoulder-soreness scare. Frankly, who gives a shit? He pitched a simulated game yesterday and said he felt absolutely fine. He’s scheduled to pitch again in an actual game early next week, a mere day or two after this critical series with the Tigers. If he’s healthy and rested enough to pitch then, surely he’s healthy and rested enough to pitch this weekend.
Guthrie is the Royals’ worst starting pitcher, with no close second. Occasionally he goes out and has an excellent game—like when he pitched against the A’s and his most recent start against Boston—but overall, he’s always a shot in the dark. That alone should more or less disqualify him for this weekend’s series. If not doesn’t do it, take a look at his numbers versus the Tigers this season. In 3 games, he’s pitched a total of 12.4 innings. That’s about 4.1 innings per outing. He’s given up 22 hits, and 15 runs. 15 fucking runs!! That’s an average of 5 solid runs per game!! Short of having his arm amputated, I’m not sure how he could possibly be a less likely candidate to start against Detroit.
It’s not as if the Royals are a comfortable 3-4 games ahead of the Tigers in the division and don’t really need these games. Quite the contrary. Every single one of these games should be considered a must-win for KC. Taking 2 out of 3 isn’t enough—not when you’ve gone 5-11 against them so far this season.
Whether it was Duffy, Ventura, or even the recently drafted Brandon Finnegan out there on the mound, it should not be Jeremy Guthrie. Not when the games are this important.