Royals see your odds and laugh at you

I challenge you!

I challenge you to find a more unlikely success story than the Kansas City Royals over the last calendar year.

One year ago, the Royals were 48-50. A few months later, they wound up with a decent shot at winning Game 7 of the World Series.

One of the good things about the Royals last year: Their starting pitchers were pretty good and really healthy. The Royals’ Opening Day rotation accounted for 151 of 162 starts, and those five starters combined for a 3.40 ERA. Not great. But good. And dependable.

This season, those same five starters have started only 54 of the Royals’ 92 games, and combined for a 4.84 ERA.

One of those starters is James Shields, who of course signed with the Padres last winter and hasn’t started any games at all for the Royals.

Another is Jason Vargas, who’s just been diagnosed with a torn elbow ligament and won’t be pitching again for a long, long while.

Another is Yordano Ventura, the Opening Day starter and presumed ace, now toiling in the Cornhusker State (well, that was the plan before Vargas went down, anyway; now Ventura’s back with the big club, same problems as before).

The other two are Jeremy Guthrie (5.36 ERA) and Danny Duffy (4.24, up from 2.53 last year). 

Oh, and the Royals have the best record in the American League, and are currently favored to win the World Series.

It really is the damnedest thing.

So do they "need" to grab another starting pitcher? Well, you know how I feel about that word. You also know what Dave Cameron thinks.

The Royals are in a tremendous position. Yes, their rotation is incredibly weak for a contender. And yet, they are contenders. More than that, really. Even without Vargas, they’re nearly a 90-percent favorite to win their division, thanks to the ridiculously weak competition. So grabbing a top-notch starting pitcher now merely pushes that a smidge past 90 percent. At the cost of a hot prospect or two.

Do you make that deal? Well, maybe with thoughts of another World Series. Because as well as the Royals have played, and as likely as they are to win the Central, three rounds of playoffs are another thing entirely. Not that one starting pitcher makes a HUGE difference there, either. Numbers aside, though, it’s difficult to imagine a long postseason run without anything even close to an ace starter; with a four-man postseason rotation peopled by Edinson Volquez and three No. 4 starters.

So, sure: Go ahead and make the deal. Your luck’s going to run out eventually. But why not delay the reckoning for as long as possible?