Jeff Francis and the Kansas City Royals: 2011 Fantasy Baseball Pitching Preview

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Jeff Francis and the Kansas City Royals: 2011 Fantasy Baseball Pitching Preview
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Jeff Francis

My first thought when I looked at the Royals rotation was, “seriously?”  They traded Zack Greinke to the Brewers in the offseason but did not receive a major league pitcher in return.  

They signed Jeff Francis, who had one good season, and it was three years ago (also his last full season), and is the only one of their projected starters to have a career record above .500.

None of their starters should be drafted in Mixed leagues, and you can probably buy their entire rotation for less than $10 in AL-only leagues.

And even though the Royals have the best farm system in baseball, including a couple of very good pitching prospects, its gonna be a long season in Kansas City.

Jeff Francis was the talk of baseball in 2007, when he won 17 games for the Rockies, and pitched as well at home as he did on the road.  He was entering his prime, and it looked like the sky was the limit for Mr. Francis.

Then the injury bug bit, and since Opening Day 2008, he’s gone 8-16 with a 5.00 ERA, plus one season missed entirely due to injury.  

He was signed to a one year, $2 million contract this winter to bring some stability to the Royals rotation.  

He’s worth a couple bucks in AL-only leagues, if only because he’s a team’s No. 1 starter, but not much more than that.

Which of the Royals starters will finish 2011 with the most wins?

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Luke Hochevar has the best numbers of any of the Royals starters…in the minor leagues.  As the first overall pick of the 2006 draft, he has never been able to translate his success in AAA to The Show.

In AAA, he has a winning record, averages nearly a strikeout per inning, an ERA of 3.30, a WHIP of 1.15 and nearly 2.5 strikeouts for each walk.

But in the majors, he’s 13 games under .500 with an ERA of 5.60, his WHIP is 1.46, and strikes out fewer than 2 batters for every walk.  

He’ll be bought at auction for a dollar or two, but only because he was the No. 1 pick in the draft a few years ago and he’s 6’7”.  

Kyle Davies is one of the few guys in baseball that I absolutely will not own. Why? Well, he’s a bad pitcher yet somehow he’s found a way to make at least 21 starts for four straight years.  

During those seasons, however, he has never had anything resembling a good year. Losing records, high ERAs, high WHIP, low strikeouts, and lots of home runs allowed. 

Please don’t let yourself be the person who thinks owning Kyle Davies is a good idea.

Next is Vin Mazzaro, who has actually shown moderate promise for the A’s and was acquired as part of the David DeJesus trade this winter. He’s young (24), throws hard, and shown the ability to get guys out.

The problem is that he hasn’t been able to do that consistently. June and July 2010, for example, Mazzaro started ten games, winning six of them with a 3.84 ERA and WHIP of 1.35 – not bad numbers for a pitcher who you could have picked up off the waiver wire.

Except that in August he went 0-4 with a WHIP of 1.42 and September he made one start.  Mazzaro isn’t a bad guy to keep your eye on, if he can start well.

The No. 5 starter will probably be Sean O’Sullivan, who came over from the Angels in the Alberto Callaspo trade last year. O’Sullivan went 3-6 with a 6.11 ERA, 1.56 WHIP and just over half a strikeout per inning.

Maybe, just maybe, he can recapture his form from June 2009 (his first month in the majors) when he went 2-0 with 13 Ks in 18 innings and an ERA of 3.00.  Barring that, I’m sorry if you have to own Sean O’Sullivan. 

The Royals do have reason for hope, however; they have some of the top hitting prospects in baseball (Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, and Mike Moustakas), and have two of the top 50 pitching prospects as well in Mike Montgomery and John Lamb.

Montgomery is the class of the group, a 6’5” 21-year-old with a big arm and a fastball that hits 97 mph with regularity. He had some elbow issues in 2010 but none of that crept up in the Arizona Fall League, where he was dominant.

He’s still at least a year away, but could be a good Dynasty pick. Lamb has an outside of making the Royals later in 2011.

He averaged 10.8 k/9 in 2010 with an ERA of 2.38 and just five home runs allowed. Granted, it was AA, but he’s got to start somewhere. 

 

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Written by Jesse Mendelson exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com.

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