Royals Name Yordano Ventura Opening Day Starter

The defending American League Champions have named 23-year-old Yordano Ventura their Opening Day starter against the Chicago White Sox, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star.

McCullough also announced how the Royals’ rotation will stack up after Ventura gets the ball on Opening Day.

A 23-year-old right-hander out of the Dominican Republic, Ventura shined last October on the national stage as he dominated the Giants in Game Six of the World Series. He hurled seven shutout frames, scattering only three hits and striking out four. Ventura finished sixth in the 2014 American League Rookie of the Year voting and finished the season 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA, 159 strikeouts and a 125 ERA+ over 183 innings. Ventura features a fastball that consistently reaches triple digits and sits in the mid to upper 90’s. He also has a power curveball and has shown flashes of an above average changeup. If he can command his fastball and continue to develop his secondary pitches, the sky is the limit here.

He will be followed in the rotation by southpaw Danny Duffy, who finished the 2014 9-12 but had a 2.53 ERA that would have ranked fifth in the American League had he thrown enough innings to qualify. He threw 149.1 innings and started out last season in the bullpen because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Now over a full year after the operation, the team expects Duffy to take the next step and become a 200 inning guy.

The Royals signed Edinson Volquez to a two-year, $20 million deal this off-season and he is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. The 31-year-old right-hander went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA with the Pirates and gave them 192.2 innings. He has always been an innings eater, as he has averaged 189 innings a season over his career, but he has frequent control issues and has yet to have a 200 inning season. The Royals are hopeful that their spacious ballpark and stellar defense can help Volquez.

Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie are veteran guys who will give a team quality innings. Neither guy lights up the radar gun, but both guys know how to pitch and have been durable throughout their careers. Vargas was signed last off-season to a four-year, $32 million deal. The southpaw went 11-10 in his first season with the Royals, and gave them a 3.71 ERA over 197 innings. The California native features one of the best change-ups in the game, which helps him keep hitters off balance even though his fastball usually tops out in the high 80’s. He averages 204 innings pitched per season and the Royals expect to get a similar output from him in 2015.

Guthrie threw game seven of the World Series and got the win in game three. He went 13-11 with a 4.13 ERA over 202.2 innings last season, and the Royals would be satisfied to get that kind of production again out of Guthrie as he enters his age 36 season. He is also a great person to have in the clubhouse and has a big influence on the team’s young arms as they look to solidify their roles atop this rotation.

This rotation may not have one guy that jumps off the page, but Ventura and Duffy have the potential to become those guys. The rest of the rotation consists of veteran guys who will not “wow” anyone with their stuff. But all three guys are capable of giving the Royals quality innings and keeping them in the game until they hand it over to their bullpen.

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