www.mozilla.com Weather Central

Graham enjoying KU life -1/28/2015, 11:03 AM

Mountaineers take down Wildcats -1/28/2015, 11:03 AM

Tuesday's area prep basketball boxscores -1/28/2015, 11:03 AM

Belichick, Patriots focused solely on Seattle, Super Bowl -1/28/2015, 11:02 AM

MVC strong at the top -1/28/2015, 11:02 AM

Former Tiger, HHS coach named new FB coach at Mac -1/27/2015, 6:57 PM

Tiger women vault to No. 6 in poll -1/27/2015, 2:39 PM

James Shields remains a free agent, but Royals 'not sure there's a fit' -1/27/2015, 10:17 AM

Pats' owner defends Belichick, Brady -1/27/2015, 10:17 AM

Alexander newcomer of the week -1/27/2015, 10:17 AM

KSU's Edwards finding success as the sixth man -1/27/2015, 10:17 AM

FHSU wins Kansas Cup after scoring error -1/27/2015, 10:17 AM

FHSU wrestling takes second in Kansas Cup -1/26/2015, 10:27 AM

WSU baseball starts second season under Butler -1/26/2015, 10:36 AM

No. 14 WSU hammers Drake -1/26/2015, 10:37 AM

Stafford named Offensive MVP in first Pro Bowl -1/26/2015, 10:27 AM

TMP boys, girls claim MCL title; HHS boys fall -1/26/2015, 10:27 AM

Brand tops Deterding in Bob Kuhn Classic -1/25/2015, 8:41 PM

Tiger wrestling falls short of No. 3 UNK -1/25/2015, 8:41 PM

No. 17 Tigers dominate No. 4 Pitt State -1/25/2015, 8:41 PM

FHSU men fall short of Pitt State -1/25/2015, 8:41 PM

Friday's area prep basketball boxscores -1/25/2015, 2:45 PM

-1/25/2015, 2:00 PM

TMP girls use overtime for semifinal win -1/24/2015, 3:13 PM

Young key in Indians' semifinal win -1/24/2015, 1:22 PM

Defense lifts TMP boys to MCL title game -1/24/2015, 12:27 PM

HHS wrestling picks up dual win -1/23/2015, 10:31 AM

Finney takes step toward NFL -1/23/2015, 10:31 AM

Indians pick up first-round win -1/23/2015, 10:22 AM

K-State agrees to series with Vandy -1/23/2015, 10:13 AM

Tiger women win 16th straight -- Pitt State next -1/23/2015, 10:13 AM

Huge second half fuels Tigers -1/23/2015, 10:13 AM

Shockers roll past Missouri State -1/22/2015, 10:14 AM

KSU at Sporting Park? -1/22/2015, 10:14 AM

GCCC women's team involved in crash -1/22/2015, 10:14 AM

Tiger wrestling wins at home -1/22/2015, 10:33 AM

Sports Scores


Prep basketball


Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

Dighton 62, Oberlin 47

Hillsboro 50, Goodland 47

Lakeside 42, Lincoln 32

Minneapolis 68, Russell 35

Rock Hills 42, Natoma 37

Salina Central 62, Andover 58

Salina South 62, Sacred Heart 47

Sharon Springs 75, Leoti 38

St. John's Beloit-Tipton 57, Osborne 34

Sylvan-Lucas 61, Thunder Ridge 48


Dighton 44, Atwood 11

Dodge City 71, Hays High 28

Hesston 51, Goodland 18

Hoisington 60, Victoria 46

Hoxie 65, St. Francis 13

Lincoln 33, Lakeside 26

Minneapolis 47, Otis-Bison 24

Osborne 59, Wilson 34

Sharon Springs 63, Oberlin 42

Sylvan-Lucas 43, Natoma 41 (ot)

Tescott 41, Rock Hills 33

Trego 56, Leoti 27

Thunder Ridge 33, St. John's Beloit-Tipton 30

Click To View All

myTown Calendar

Key to the Royals' playoff push

[var top_story_head]

Key to the Royals' playoff push

Published on -8/22/2014, 9:56 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

By Andy McCullough


The youthful pillars propping up the Royals crossed paths Wednesday afternoon. With a hoodie covering his head, Danny Duffy lounged on a clubhouse couch a few hours before his 20th start of 2014. Yordano Ventura strutted past the couch, paused at his locker and ventured back into the trainer's room to prepare for his 24th start of 2014 on Friday in Texas.

The formula for the Royals' ascension to the top of the American League Central involves elements from each portion of the roster. The late-game trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland is suffocating. The outfield defense appears impenetrable, and Alex Gordon will merit MVP consideration. The late-season resurrections of Billy Butler and Nori Aoki have enlivened the offense.

Yet the least heralded and perhaps most crucial portion of the equation involves the reliability of the starting rotation. The current quintet has started 118 of the season's first 126 games. Bruce Chen began the season in the rotation and started seven games in all. The outlier is Aaron Brooks, who melted down in a spot start in Toronto. The consistency sustains this club.

"That's the utmost importance for every team," manager Ned Yost said. "You start losing your pitch, man, it's sayonara."

The core of the rotation exemplifies stability. James Shields has never been on the disabled list.

Jeremy Guthrie has thrown 200 innings in four seasons. Jason Vargas averaged 190 innings from 2010 to 2013.

The other 40 percent of the group was less predictable. Duffy, 25, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012. Ventura, 23, opened the 2013 season in Class AA Northwest Arkansas. Together they have logged 273.2 innings this year.

Down the stretch, neither will work under a strict innings limit, general manager Dayton Moore said. He does not expect to shift either pitcher to the bullpen to save innings, either.

"Consistency in your rotation is crucial if you're going to have success," Moore said. "And both of those individuals have gone out there and went to the post every fifth day and performed."

The results are not always pretty. Duffy, 8-11 with a 2.53 ERA, suffered a mini-implosion, complete with a sudden grand slam, in a 5-2 defeat Wednesday. Ventura, 9-9, 3.48 ERA, coughed up a one-run advantage in his last outing against the Twins. He also experienced a health-related hiccup in May, when a valgus extension overload in his prized right elbow cost him a start.

Neither Duffy nor Ventura has ever completed a full big-league season. For the Royals, the trick will be keeping the pair performing well down the stretch. The bulk of this task falls on the shoulders of pitching coach Dave Eiland.

In the last few weeks, Eiland counseled the two to reduce their workload between starts. Duffy tosses his bullpen session a day later than usual. Playing catch the day after a start is no longer mandatory. Eiland estimated a third of their throwing had been eliminated, and "we've cut the volume and the intensity back a little bit," he said.

This is a common practice for a starting pitcher. Veterans understand spells of fatigue appear in mid-June and mid-August. Neophytes like Duffy and Ventura require guidance from their elders. For Duffy, two years removed from surgery, a preseason meeting with trainer Nick Kenney was instructive.

Kenney counseled Duffy to take his preparation more seriously. Duffy undertook his between-start activities with "more conviction," he said.

"I thought that I was maxing it out, but I wasn't mature enough to realize that there's another gear you have to kick it into," Duffy said. "Once you realize that in order to stay here, and that you want to stay here for a long time, you have to make the call to man up."

With Ventura, Eiland had to offer more nuanced advice. He had told Ventura all year long to perform his throwing exercises with less intensity, to protect his arm. He rebounded from his long physical setback, the elbow pain in May, with his trademark brand of 100-mph fastballs.

His consistency still revolves around his curveball. When Ventura commands the pitch, he can dominate opponents. Even when he lacks the proper touch on the breaking ball, his fastball allows him to survive. His biggest hurdle may be his youth, and lack of experience.

When he was 23, Vargas suffered sophomore-season regression with the Marlins. At the same age, his future teammates were in various stages of development and repair. Guthrie was a junior at Oregon State. Shields began his fifth season in the minors. Duffy landed on an operating table.

Ventura is in the majors at 23. He has not been a star. But he has still been a formidable memorable of the rotation.

"That's another testament to what Yordano's done this year," Duffy said. "Just turning into a man, on and off the field. We're all really proud of him. It takes guts. It takes a lot more than people think to turn it on that quickly, let alone turn it on at all."

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News
AP Nation-World News

View this site in another language.

Kansas News