What’s next for Yordano Ventura?

Just this morning in his newsletter, Joe Sheehan wrote a bunch of words about Yordano Ventura, Kansas City’s Opening Day starter. Ventura got hit hard Monday night, and in fact has been struggling all season long. Joe’s central thesis: Ventura throws real hard, but with the exception of a nice run last season has never really put everything together, not even in the minors. Here’s one of the good parts:

Whatever his flaws, Ventura is one of their best starting pitchers. The Royals’ rotation lacks upside and desperately needs his potential. It’s a bit much to rework his mechanics on the fly in a season when he’s already missed time with an ulnar nerve problem.

Taking a step back, the Royals sure seem to have turned a lot of starting-pitching prospects into nothing. Ventura and Danny Duffy are back in the rotation, but can you call them anything but "disappointing" relative to the expectations of 2012 and 2013? Kyle Zimmer and Sean Manaea are injury cases. John Lamb. Mike Montgomery. Aaron Crow. Luke Hochevar. The Royals have had some success with reclamation projects like Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Young, and we know about their relievers, but the inability to turn prospects into players, both on the mound and in the field, is a weakness that belies the image of this team as a player-development triumph. Their greatest success, Lorenzo Cain, was drafted and developed by the Brewers. Same for Wade Davis and the Rays.

Alas, all this was written before the Royals sent Ventura back to the minors, which apparently isn’t something Joe foresaw.

But the way these things usually work, Ventura will dominate Triple-A hitters for a start or two, then get called right back up. Assuming he’s healthy. Because it’s not like the Royals have five guys better than him.

It’s actually sort of amazing that the team with the best record in the American League is now sporting a rotation of Edinson Volquez, Jason Vargas, Danny Duffy, Chris Young, and Jeremy Guthrie. Last season, the Royals’ starting pitching was a strength; this season, they’ve got the fourth-worst ERA in the league, and that’s with a tremendous defense behind them.

It’s also sort of amazing that they’ve got the best record in the American League despite, as Joe points out, a paucity of recently home-grown stars.

Just goes to show there’s more than one way to win. Even more, goes to show just how hard predicting baseball is. Three or four years ago, a lot of people thought the Royals would be good in 2015. But not good like this.