Blue Jays-Royals preview
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Yordano Ventura, who starts Sunday for the Kansas City Royals in the series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays, can be exasperating -- excellent one start, mediocre the next.
Examine Ventura's home record. He won his first four decisions this season at Kauffman Stadium, posting a 3.75 ERA. However, he's lost his past three home starts, allowing 13 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings for a 6.75 ERA.
Ventura is 0-5 with a 5.40 ERA in his past seven starts. He has not picked up a victory since June 17, when he defeated the Detroit Tigers 10-3. The Royals are averaging 2.7 runs per game in his starts since the 'W.'
The numbers do not equate to a right-arm that can throw a 100 mile per hour fastball and average 96 mph.
There can be some comparisons between Ventura and Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, who started the season in the bullpen and has developed into club's best starter. Duffy won his seventh straight decision in beating the Blue Jays 4-2 on Saturday night.
"There's no frustration there because you know he's grown into it," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's the same way with Ventura. You can't get frustrated. They're growing. They're getting better. They're learning what it takes to be successful. The light bulb is just starting to go on. You can see him getting a little better, a little better and understanding a little more and understanding a little more."
Ventura had some unkind twitter words for Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista after a dugout clearing shouting match last August at the Rogers Centre. Ventura tweeted out to Bautista: "We'll meet again later," and called him a "nobody" who steals signs. The remarks were later removed and Ventura apologized.
Ventura made two no-decisions starts against the Blue Jays in the postseason last October, allowing four runs in 10 2/3 innings on 12 hits, while striking out 11, walking four and hitting four.
The Blue Jays counter with Marcus Stroman, who is 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA in his past seven starts. Stroman struck out 13 Houston Astros in a Monday start.
With closer Roberto Osuna unavailable Friday after pitching in three of the four previous games, manager John Gibbons used Joaquin Benoit, who was acquired in a late July trade with Seattle, in the ninth inning to protect a one-run lead.
Benoit has allowed two hits and no runs over six innings since joining the Blue Jays.
"I like everything I've seen," Gibbons said of Benoit. "I don't know how they let him go. We really didn't know what to expect. He's been around a while. He came in against us when he was with Seattle and his arm was still there; you could tell that. And he's been perfect since he's been here. It seems like he enjoys it. I think he's happy to come over here."
With the additions of Benoit and Jason Grilli, who was acquired May 31 from Atlanta, plus Osuna, Gibbons has at his disposal three veteran right-handers who have closed games.
"Everybody knows Osuna's the guy," Gibbons said. "Now the key is we've got to be able to use them all because we're one less guy than we usually carry (in the bullpen) and you've got to watch those guys and get some innings out of the starters or it could blow up on us, like some of those extra-inning games."