Uh oh. It’s bad enough that the Royals are once again motivated by PECOTA projecting them to finish in last place in the American League Central, but now Edinson Volquez has officially announced that he feels sexy again, firing the first warning shot that the Royals are coming for that ass. Again. After losing Johnny Cueto to the San Francisco Giants via free agency, Volquez now becomes the de facto ace of the defending World Series champions. In 2015, Volquez hit 200 innings for the first time in his career, striking out 155 batters in 200.1 innings with an ERA of 3.55. What Volquez brings to the table isn’t exactly what you’d hope for in your No. 1 starter, with a WHIP of 1.308 and 2.15 strikeouts to walks ratio, but he’ll have to do.
The Royals have never had stellar starting pitching in their two-year reign as American League champions, unless you want to count James Shields, who was a disaster for them come playoff time in 2014. But despite not having a clear cut ace, the Royals have managed to find a way to win in the postseason. In fact, last year, the last place Boston Red Sox had a starting pitching ERA of 4.39. The Royals? 4.34. It all came down to mediocre starting pitching, timely hitting, elite defense and one of the best bullpens in the game.
But if Volquez is feeling sexy again, like he was before his Game 1 start against the Blue Jays in the 2015 American League Championship Series, then who knows? Maybe they’ll actually have an ace at the top of their rotation, because Cueto and his 4.76 ERA in 81.1 innings after being dealt to Kansas City certainly didn’t do them any favors.