MLB Team News & Rumors: Kansas City

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Kansas City Royals

Our expert from,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.

Kansas City Royals Team Projection

If you're looking for a detailed fantasy baseball breakdown of the Kansas City Royals pitching staff, you have come to the right place.

1. SP James Shields

James Shields fantasy baseball

Shields delivered his 3rd straight plus season in 2013 while leading the AL in innings pitched. Overall, he has thrown 705.7 innings over the last 3 years. His K rate (7.7) was the lowest it has been in the past 4 seasons while his walk rate (2.7) was his highest since 2006. His AVB (92.2) was his 2nd highest of his career. Additionally, he has a plus change up and a cutter that is improving (plus he throws a solid curveball). He wasn't dominant against RH batters (.272 - .248 in 2012 and .215 in 2011). James had an ERA under 3.50 in every month of the season and was great on the road (10-3 with a 2.07 ERA). Shields is a solid major league pitcher who has pitched over 200 innings in each of the last 7 years. He showed decline in 3 areas in 2013 - walk rate, K rate, and batting average to RH batters. Looking back, he has struggled in the past after a couple of solid seasons. Possible down tick year.

2. SP Jason Vargas

Jason Vargas fantasy baseball

Vargas missed 2 months of the season with an arm injury. He returned to pitch 4 decent starts in August to lower his ERA to 3.54. However, Jason blew up in September (5.55 ERA). His K rate (6.5) was a career high and his walk rate (2.8) was in line with his career average. Lefties hit .327 against him, but they had no HR's. RH batters had 17 HR's in 425 at bats. Vargas has a short fastball (87.7) and throws a change up as his 2nd best pitch. Last year, he started throwing his curveball a lot more at the expense of his cutter. Jason has plenty of risk, but the backend half of the Royals pitching staff isn't any better. Vargas has decent command with a weak K rate. He won't have a ton of value in the fantasy world, but could end up being the 2nd best starter on the Royals with a sub 4.00 ERA.

3. SP Danny Duffy

Danny Duffy fantasy baseball

Duffy returned with mixed results from his Tommy John surgery. His K rate (11.3) was elite in his 16 minor league appearances, but his walk rate (3.9) was in a bad area. The Royals gave him 5 starts in August and September. He delivered 2 solid starts in August (12.7 shutout innings with 10 K's), but developed an arm issue in September, which led to 9 walks in 8 innings. His AFB (93.7) was a step down from his previous velocity (95.2 in 2012). He threw a changeup as his 2nd best pitch, followed by a curveball and occasional slider. He dominated RH batters (.177), but had a poor BB:K ratio (13:18). Duffy was 30-16 during his career in the minors with a 2.88 ERA and 494 K's in 419 innings. His command is the key to his upside. While he has a plus arm, his 4.75 ERA in the majors says he needs time to develop. Duffy will have his innings limited in 2014.

4. SP Jeremy Guthrie

Jeremy Guthrie fantasy baseball

Guthrie was fool's Gold in 2013. He had a 3.06 ERA in April with 24 K's in 32.3 innings. Over the last five months of the year, his K rate was only 4.4. Jeremy had no answer for LH batters (.331 with a .528 SLG %), and his AFB (91.8) was a career low. He throws a slider as his #2 pitch followed by a changeup and curveball. Guthrie allowed the most hits in the AL. While his command (2.5) is very good, his lack of strikeouts gives him no real upside. On the bright side, Kansas City has to pay him $17 million over the next 2 seasons. Jeremy has no fantasy value.

5. SP Wade Davis

Wade Davis fantasy baseball

So much for connecting the dot with Davis after his plus year in the bullpen in 2012. Wade pitched 12 shutout innings in his 2nd and 3rd starts of the seasons, but his success was derailed very quickly after pitching poorly in 3 of his next 4 starts (54 base runners and 19 runs in 19.3 innings). All in all, it was a failed year as starter for him. He allowed 6 runs or more 7 times in 24 starts (29.2% disaster rate). His K rate (7.6) was stronger than his 2 previous seasons as starter, but he couldn't match his success as a reliever (11.1). His command (3.9) was the worst of his career and it has declined in 2 straight seasons. He didn't pitch well against righties (.286), but was brutal against lefties (.326 with a .500 SLG %). His lack of success led to him pitching out of the bullpen in September (3 hits and 1 run in 10 innings). His AFB (92.1) was a step back from his 2012 season (93.5). While he throws a curveball as his #2 pitcher, he started using his cutter at a much higher rate in 2013. Davis allowed an incredible 27.5% line drives with a career low FB rate (32%). As bad as it looks, it could have been a lot worst if more of those line drives had more loft. He is no lock to start and probably has more value as a reliever, but the Royals have a deep bullpen. Some K ability upside, but he brings plenty of risk to the table.

6. SP Yordano Ventura

Yordano Ventura fantasy baseball

Ventura has an elite fastball (97.5) with a curveball that has upside. He also threw a cutter and a changeup during his limited innings in the majors. His K rate (6.5) was short in the majors, but it showed more upside in the minors (9.9). Overall, his command (3.5) will be the key for his impact in the majors in 2014. Major league batters had a 1.8 K rate against him in 15.3 innings. Lefties only hit .211 against him with the Royals. Yordano has an upside arm with high upside in K's when his command and secondary pitches develop. His arm is much better than 4 starters that are expected to be in the starting rotation. Kansas City has drafted many young arms over the past few seasons and none have developed into elite pitchers (most have ended up getting hurt). He lacks size, so his durability will be in question early in his career. He pitched 150 innings last season and should work his way up to 180 this year. Upside backend starter with K ability.

7. SP Kyle Zimmer

Kyle Zimmer fantasy baseball

Zimmer struggled last season at High A (4.82), but was able to find his rhythm which led to a call up to AA. Kyle was a much pitcher after the promotion (1.93 ERA), and had an electric K rate (13.0) at AA with solid command (2.4). His season ended in August when he developed a sore shoulder. He has a plus fastball that can reach the upper 90's with a plus curveball and a change up with upside. The Royals really have a short window to keep their core batters, so Zimmer could be pushed quickly if the Royals have any problems with their starting rotation.

8. CL Greg Holland

Greg Holland fantasy baseball

Holland was about one bad outing away from losing the closer job in early April. He allowed 4 runs and 11 base runners in his first 3 innings of the year. At the same time, Kelvin Herrera was lights out (12 K's and no runs in 5.1 innings). Kelvin blew up on April 16th (4 runs) and Holland stabilized on April 17th. Over Greg's last 64 innings, he only allowed 5 runs (0.70 ERA) and 47 base runners (0.734 WHIP). His big step forward was due to a much improved walk rate (2.4 - 4.6 in 2012), which led to an elite K rate (13.8). Overall, batters only hit .170 against him and he had a 9.6 strikeout to base on ball ratio to RH batters. Holland's fastball (96.1) remains elite and he throws a plus slider. His success was supported by his 2011 season. Holland has 40+ save upside with plus K ability.

9. RP Kelvin Herrera

Kelvin Herrera fantasy baseball

Herrera had a real strange year in 2013. He looked poised to steal the closer job heading into the season and Holland just about gift wrapped the job a week into the season. Kelvin pitched well in his first 6 outings (no runs and 12 K's in 5.1 innings), but the Braves sucked the life out of him by hitting 3 HR's on April 16th. Over his next 11 appearances, Herrera allowed 5 more HR's (8 over a 13 innings period). This led to 2 trips to the minors (1.12 ERA with 27 K's in 18 innings). He finished the first half of the year with a 5.20 ERA and poor command (4.9). Kelvin was a much better pitcher after the All Star break (2.64 ERA with 41 K's and only 6 walks in 30.7 innings). Herrera is a GB pitcher (47.6%) with an elite fastball (98.2) and plus changeup. He has closer ability and will be waiting to pounce on the closer job if Holland has any issues. Kelvin is a must own if you own Holland.

10. RP Luke Hochevar

Luke Hochevar fantasy baseball

After five bad seasons as a starter, Hochevar turned into a stud as a reliever. He had a huge jump in his first strike %, which led to career best walk rate (2.2). His improved control helped him have the highest K rate (105) of his career. Luke dominated both sides of the plate (RH - .138 and LH - .198). He finished the year with an electric K rate (15.3 - 21 K's in 12.3 innings with only 1 walk), and his fastball jumped from 92.6 as a starter to 95.5 in relief. He fell in love with his cutter, which he threw 35.7% of the time (previous high 16.5% in 2011). Hochevar also has a solid curveball. Tremendous growth season gives him a closer skill set if he has the stones. He might even pitch better as a starter with more confidence.


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