When looking at Major League rotations, often there is a pitcher or two at the backend that leave you scratching your head. You ask yourself, “Why is this guy even on a Major League roster?” How often do you look at a team’s rotation and wonder why is any one of these guys starting?
When you look at the Royals rotation that is pretty much what you are left wondering. In the majority of leagues, every one of their starting pitchers is probably sitting on the waiver wire (outside of AL-only leagues). Yes, they are stocked with pitching prospects like Mike Montgomery, John Lamb and Danny Duff, many of which could get a chance before the year is out. For now, however, we have to sift through the dreck and determine if any of the pitchers could have value:
This may be one of the most underwhelming Opening Day starters of all-time. In his Major League career the former first round draft pick has been awful, posting a 5.60 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in 69 appearances (65 starts). Last season was no different, posting a 4.81 ERA and 1.43 WHIP over 103.0 innings of work. However, there certainly was some poor luck at play, with a .312 BABIP and 65.0% strand rate.
Over his minor league career he has shown some promise, with a 3.71 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He also showed solid control (2.58 BB/9), something that has actually translated to the Major Leagues (3.11 BB/9). There is some strikeout potential as well, with a 7.80 K/9 (6.01 K/9 over his Major League career).
The question is, can he finally put things together and show the potential against Major League hitters? Over the past three seasons we can say he suffered “bad luck”, but with three straight years of below average numbers is it bad luck or just inability?
Of all the players in the Royals rotation, he’s the one pitcher that is probably worth keeping an eye on off the waiver wire. He opens the season with starts against the Angels and White Sox. If he finally shows signs of putting things together I can see taking a flier on him in deeper formats, though I wouldn’t be holding my breath for that.
Returning from injury in 2010, Francis was underwhelming with a 5.00 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. He brings little to no strikeout potential and don’t read too much into the elite control he showed last season (1.98 BB/9). For his career, only once had he been below 3.07. That’s still solid, but not even close to his ’10 production.
The people who believe in him are pretty much just looking at his 17 win season from 2007 (which feels like a lifetime ago). In 882.2 Major League innings he is sporting a 4.77 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. That is more than enough of a sample size to tell us all we need to know. He struggled in the NL (Coors Field or not) and now moves to the AL. There’s no real reason to expect much of anything.
Does this guy really belong in a Major League rotation? In 706.2 Major League innings he has posted a 5.49 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. Only once has he posted an ERA below 4.93 (4.06 in ’08) and he’s never had a WHIP below 1.45. How bad does he have to be before he is booted out of the rotation? Once one of the Royals’ prospects shows that he is ready, he’ll likely be the first man out. Don’t even bother considering him.
Do we still think that he can return to the days of 2005 (3.83 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)? Yes, he was decent last season with a 4.17 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, but is that really enough to entice anyone? He really isn’t worth spending much time on. The fact of the matter is that he is not likely to produce anything close to being fantasy viable.
Reports are that he is going to open the year at Triple-A, but that’s only because they can go with a four-man rotation thanks to numerous off days. He will be the team’s fifth starter, and actually may bring a little bit more intrigue than #2-4.
Last season he posted a 4.27 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 122.1 innings for Oakland. Of course, he showed little strikeout potential (5.81 K/9), which is instantly going to limit any type of upside. It’s not like he was overly impressive in the minor leagues, with a K/9 of 6.84. With a minor league career ERA of 3.98 and WHIP of 1.37, maybe he actually isn’t much better than the rest of the group.
At this point, until the kids start finding their way into the Major League rotation, there truly is little intrigue surrounding the Royals starting pitchers. The only one worth monitoring is Luke Hochevar, and even that feels like a stretch right now. While their offense could produce value, the rotation appears to be a fantasy black hole at the moment.
What are your thoughts? Do any of their pitchers interest you? Why or why not?
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