The Royals are going to give Kyle Farnsworth a chance to start

Leave a comment

Kyle Farnsworth.JPGI’ll give Royals fans a few moments to clean up the coffee they just spit all over the screen.  Done? Good. Let’s continue. Here’s Royals’ pitching coach Bob McClure:

“Kyle Farnsworth is competing for a job in the rotation. We’re going to lengthen him out and see how it goes. Because what he showed me last year was the ability to back off a
little bit and not pitch with his hair on fire. And, to be a starter,
you have to be able to just kind of go pitch-by-pitch.”

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a pitcher who has done less with more than Kyle Farnsworth. His fastball is not what it once was, but it’s still impressive. He strikes out a lot of people. While he’s no Joel Piniero, he doesn’t walk as many people as a guy with his velocity might be expected to.  He’s had flashes of brilliance. At the same time his ERA is pretty high and almost every time he’s been asked to close or do something moderately more important than get one or two outs in the sixth inning or whatever, he’s failed spectacularly.

What’s his deal?  I’ve never met the guy, but there’s a strong sense out there that he’s a few fries short of a happy meal in the brains department, which manifests itself in a Nuke LaLooshian tendency to throw gas when gas is not necessarily called for. That he just isn’t wired to think about stuff like “this guy sat dead red last time so I should maybe try a curveball this time.” Instead, he thinks “this guy sat dead red last time so I’ll go dead redder.”

All that said, this is probably worth trying if you’re the Royals. They paid Farnsworth too much money to come in and be a middle reliever, so rather than just leave him as a middle reliever, why not see if you can’t squeeze some extra value, or at the very least, extra innings out of him? If he beats the overwhelming odds against him and becomes a serviceable starter, fabulous. If he doesn’t? Well, it’s not like his failure would be the difference between winning the division or not.

In other words, I kind of like it.

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images

So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.

Pirates’ Nick Leyva selected as senior advisor of baseball ops

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 17:  Coach Nick Leyva #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 17, 2013 in Bradenton, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.

Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:

The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.

In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.

This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.

Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.

Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:

We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.