OK, after last Friday’s exercise, it’s time to turn to the pitchers. Going in, I’m thinking it’s going to be easier to assemble a rotation and bullpen than it was for a lineup. There are going to be some monster lineups in this sim, so we need to make sure our pitchers are up to the task.
Bret Saberhagen - 3.21 ERA, 5.9 K/9, 1.8 BB/9
Remember, we only focus on stats complied while the players were in Royal blue. That’s a good thing when it comes to Saberhagen who battled injuries after Herk Robinson sent him to the Mets in exchange for a steaming pile of crap. (FYI - Keith Miller, Gregg Jefferies and Kevin McReynolds… That’s what a steaming pile of crap looks like.)
Sabes ranks fourth all-time in Royals ERA (and is the number one starter) and is also tops with a 1.13 WHIP. For him, it was all about control. His 3.3 strikeout to walk ratio is also the best all-time.
Kevin Appier - 3.49 ERA, 7.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9
If the Royals had some decent teams in the mid ‘90s, odds are strong we would remember Ape as fondly as we remember Sabes.
Appier is the top strikeout starter in franchise history and with a hit rate of 8.2 H/9, he was the toughest for batters to get a base knock.
Dennis Leonard - 3.70 ERA, 5.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9
Leonard ranks second on the all-time franchise list with 144 wins and from a stretch over 1977 to 1980, he was absolutely dominant. His 1.26 WHIP is the ninth best rate in team history and he’s the all time leader with 103 complete games and 23 shutouts.
A knee injury at the age of 32 cost him a couple of years, but he still makes this rotation.
Paul Splittorff - 3.81 ERA, 3.7 K/9, 2.6 BB/9
I’ll be honest - Splittorff does nothing for me. But I need a lefty and Larry Gura does even less. I thought about Jose Rosado, and I was tempted, but his time was too short and he wasn’t exactly consistent.
But consistency is what kept Splittorff in the majors. Throw out his first and last seasons for small sample sizes and his ERA hovered between 3.50 and 4.10. It’s not great, but it will do.
Mark Gubicza - 3.91 ERA, 5.5 K/ 9, 3.2 BB/9
I’ll fill out the rotation with Gubicza, whose 132 wins rank third on the all-time charts.
What’s kind of surprising his how close he is to Steve Busby and Danny Jackson on several of the lists, like strikeouts per 9 and walks per 9. Busby was a little more difficult to hit with a hit rate 8.5 H/9 while Goobie posted a 9.0 H/9. Jackson put more runners on base with a 1.43 WHIP to Gubicza’s 1.36 WHIP. There wasn’t much to separate these three.
The Royals have been fortunate to have three quality closers down the years.
Dan Quisenberry - 2.55 ERA, 3.1 K/9, 1.4 BB/9
Quis was a different kind of closer. For one thing, he was a submariner which meant he wasn’t a hard thrower. For another, he didn’t ever rely on strikeouts. He was kind of the anti-Gossage.
But he could get a ground ball. And with Frank White behind him (on this team as a defensive replacement) he racked up the double plays and the outs.
I’m thinking because he was an old fashioned closer in the sense he would often pitch more than one inning, he’s my true fireman. I would bring him in at any point in the game when I needed a ground ball double play to get out of trouble. Then, I’d leave him in for another inning.
Jeff Montgomery - 3.20 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 3 BB/9
Like Appier, if Montgomery had played on quality teams not managed by Bob Boone and Tony Muser, he would have his jersey retired.
As much as I abhor the save stat, I’ll mention he was the team leader in saves with 304 as a Royal. Monty can pitch the eighth inning for this team, bridging the gap to…
Joakim Soria - 2.05 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9
Just in under the two-year service time rule to make the roster, Soria is on the path to being the most dominant pitcher in Royal history. His success means he’s my closer.
The rest of the bullpen…
Steve Farr - 3.05 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 3.6 BB/9
Farr could be a little wild, but he also could be a little dominant. He would be an effective set up man on days when Quis and/or Montgomery are unavailable.
Bud Black - 3.73 ERA, 4.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9
Perhaps a questionable choice to round out the bullpen, but I need a lefty.
Another bonus is Black can be my long man. In that situation, I want someone who is good at keeping runners off the bases and his 1.26 career WHIP is eighth best all time and is just behind fellow lefty Gura. I would have taken Gura ahead of Black, but he his strikeout rate of 3.6 K/9 IP was lower.
There you go… Ten pitchers, two leftys and some quality all around.
What would you do differently?