The below is my gut feeling of how these “Named Six” will do in 2011… not based on anything but my gut.
Bruce Chen, Kyle Davies, Jeff Francis, Luke Hochevar, Vin Mizzaro, Sean O’Sullivan. These are the 6 pitchers who were named as the prime candidates to make up the Royals’ Starting Rotation to begin the season. Since there hasn’t been much press about these 6 dudes… because everyone likes to write about the bright new shinny prospects. So here is my pre-Spring Training forecast for the “Named Six”.
Kyle Davies. As per usual, Kyle will dazzle with his great fastball & spike-curveball. Kyle will do well for a while, and then loose his concentration. By mid-season, Kyle will find himself in the bullpen… do a fairly good job. But, I believe Kyle will be packaged in a mid-season trade… or Designated for Assignment next offseason.
Luke Hochevar. Here’s a tuffy. When healthy, he can be a very solid #3 starter, or better. But last year he injured his elbow during the season and when on the Disabled List. Then came back and was ineffective, so he was shut down for the rest of the year. Now they are calling him the probable Opening Day Starter. If he makes it out of Spring Training without needing surgery, I’m betting he’ll have some great games, but will end up having season ending surgery and (like Davies) probably never wear a Royals Uniform after 2011. And then again, Luke may feel the force and FINALLY become worthy of being a high draft choice (I won’t hold the #1 over-all pick tag on him).
I’ll combine Vin Mizzaro & Sean O’Sullivan. Both are youngish guys we got in trades during the season last year. Since we didn’t give away All-Star players in the trades, it’s doubtful that we got back All-Star pitching prospects. Both guys have the arms to be solid #3-#5 starters. But both have under-performed so far and could end up as easy cast-offs. I suggest that you flip a coin… one turning into an important piece in our rotation… the other… not so much. Don’t know (nor care) which.
Bruce Chen. The Bruce Chen we saw last year is the one I’ll be looking for this season. I’m guessing just a little better ERA & win total for Bruce. But he keeps talking about how he kept his pitches lower last year. When I view his 2010 re-caps, he got a lot of ground balls on pitches above the waist. Maybe he had a lot of downward movement through the hitting zone… it could happen! I like his veteran presence in the clubhouse… and sense of humor. I see Bruce as that all important innings eater.
Jeff Francis. Here’s our Ace! OK, NOT a big time dominating #1 starter, but he’ll be a better #1 guy than Redman and many other Pre-Greinke/Meche #1 starters. I’m looking for a sub-4. ERA & 15+ wins. If we get that out of him, 2011 may not be a total loss.
OR, I could be totally wrong.