Royals’ World Series rotation: Volquez, Cueto, Ventura, Young
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals will send Edinson Volquez to the mound in Game 1 of the World Series, choosing their most consistent starter to lead things off against the New York Mets. The more volatile Johnny Cueto will go in Game 2.
Royals manager Ned Yost announced his rotation Monday, the day the Series gets started at Kauffman Stadium. Yordano Ventura will get the ball when the teams head to Citi Field in New York for Game 3 on Friday, with veteran Chris Young offering a change of pace in Game 4.
"We wanted Johnny Cueto in Game 2 because Johnny really feeds off the home crowd, and we’re able to have Johnny in Game 2 and Game 6 here at home," Yost said. "We think that gives us a bit of advantage having Johnny pitching at home in front of our home crowd."
The Mets will start Matt Harvey in Game 1, followed by Jacob deGrom. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz will follow in the first two games at Citi Field.
Volquez was 13-9 with a 3.55 ERA during the season as the replacement for departed veteran James Shields. And while he was just 1-2 with a 4.32 ERA in three playoff starts, he did toss six innings of two-hit ball to beat Toronto in the AL Championship Series opener.
"It’s a great honor to pitch in this game, especially pitching at home," said Volquez, who had never made it past the divisional round in two previous postseason appearances.
"I don’t have to do anything different than what I’ve been doing," he said. "I’ve got to stay focused in what you’re doing, especially this game, because this is a World Series game. You don’t have too many chances to make a lot of mistakes in those games."
Cueto certainly knows the fine line between devastating and disastrous.
Spurred by the crowd at Kauffman Stadium, he allowed two runs on two hits over eight innings against Houston in the decisive Game 5 of their divisional series. But in a hostile environment in Toronto, he was hammered for eight runs in two innings, joining A.J. Burnett as the only pitchers to allow 11 baserunners in a playoff start lasting two or fewer innings.
Cueto said Monday the miserable outing is firmly in the past, and he’s prepared to do exactly what the Royals expected of him when they acquired him at the trade deadline.
"They brought me here for this," he said. "That’s what they brought me here for, and I have to give it my all to make sure that the team that brought me here finishes off as champions."
Ventura will start Game 3, in part, because he wouldn’t have been ready to pitch the series opener after starting Game 6 of the championship series. Young earned the final starting spot over Kris Medlen on the strength of his solid performance in Game 4 against the Blue Jays.
The two dovetail nicely, too. Ventura relies on a blistering fastball and hard-breaking curve, while Young provides a completely different look with his array of off-speed stuff.
"If we brought back Ventura in Game 1, he would have been a day early. We didn’t want that," Yost said. "We really like Chris Young in Game 4. He’s a guy that it doesn’t matter — there is nothing that’s going to distract him. There’s nothing that’s going to slow him down."