Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals: Luis Mendoza Making Strong Case to Be Team's No. 5 Starter

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 21:  Luis Mendoza #39 of the Kansas City Royals tips his cap as he leaves the game against Cleveland Indians in the seventh inning on Friday, September 21, 2012 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
Kyle Rivas/Getty Images
Jeremy SickelContributor IIIMarch 19, 2013

Coming off a season that yielded just 72 wins, it may surprise some that the Kansas City Royals entered spring training with very few positions up for grabs.

Still, they need to decide who will be pegged to see the most time at second base, and who will emerge as the team’s fifth starter.

While it is likely that some sort of platoon will take place at second base between Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella, Kansas City really needs to find a consistent arm at the back of its rotation.

After an aggressive offseason to upgrade their starting pitching (trading for James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana, and re-signing Jeremy Guthrie), the Royals were left with a handful of familiar faces to battle it out for the final spot.

Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza were all leading candidates for the spot, while Will Smith and Yordano Ventura were long shots.

With just two weeks before the 2013 season kicks off, the Royals announced that Hochevar would be moved to the bullpen (via KansasCity.com). Kansas City also deciding to send Smith and Ventura to the Minor Leagues in order to maintain consistent work as the season approaches.

So now only two options remain: Mendoza and Chen.

 

In Chen, the Royals have a fan favorite who has seen nominal success with the team over the past few seasons

However, he took a step back in 2012 posting a 5.07 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. His spring stats are not very encouraging at the moment either: 7.90 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and seven home runs allowed in 13.2 innings.

Chen’s $4.5 million salary and the fact that he is a lefty will also be considered. As it stands, the Royals have no left-handed pitchers in the rotation.

Mendoza embodies more of a wild-card than Chen, as his track record is much shorter but the upside is much greater. Through three spring appearances, he has tallied a .82 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP with just two walks and eight strikeouts in 11 innings.

If the last impression indicates who currently leads for the fifth spot, Mendoza—who is coming off a five-inning, four-hit and four-strikeout performance in Sunday’s 10-0 win over the Chicago White Sox—is running laps around Chen.

While it may come down to preference, this decision could ultimately determine whether the Royals are ready to take that next step forward as a team.

 

Interact with Jeremy on Twitter

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices