Royals flip roles of Mendoza and Chen, promote Coleman from Omaha

Mendoza out of rotation, Chen in; Coleman up from Omaha, Smith back down

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Royals manager Ned Yost has decided to flip-flop the roles of right-hander Luis Mendoza and left-hander Bruce Chen -- for now.


Chen will take over in the rotation, while the struggling Mendoza will assume the long-relief role.


The move was not a huge surprise. Mendoza has been hit hard in his last two outings and has a 7.64 ERA over his last 17 1/3 innings.


Chen made a career-high 34 starts last season and finished 11-14, but with a 5.07 ERA. As a long reliever, Chen is 3-0 this season with a 2.41 ERA, though he has allowed 11 of 12 inherited runners to score.

Also on Monday, the Royals' search for an eighth-inning setup man continued with the call-up of right-hander Louis Coleman from Triple-A Omaha. Coleman, 27, was 3-2 with a 1.61 ERA at Omaha this season. He had a brief stint with the Royals earlier this season and did not permit a run in four appearances.

Coleman presumably could fill that eighth-inning role along with right-hander Aaron Crow, left-hander Tim Collins or right-hander Luke Hochevar.


Yost expressed recently that he was gaining confidence in using Hochevar in more high-leverage situations.


To make room for Coleman, the Royals optioned left-hander Will Smith back to Omaha, a move that was somewhat surprising considering that Smith has been at the very least marginally effective since his switch to the bullpen.


Smith had given up just three runs in 12 1/3 innings of relief since his June 25 recall from Omaha.


Yost and the Royals have been trying to find a replacement for Kelvin Herrera, who was the team's primary setup man last season, and was used in that role effectively earlier this season.


But Herrera struggled at the big league level from late April on, and has been optioned twice to Omaha, where he most recently pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings over two appearances.


You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.