All-Star reliever Aaron Crow wants spot in Royals’ rotation

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Aaron Crow made the All-Star team as a rookie and finished the year with a 2.76 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 62 innings, but now the Royals are giving the 25-year-old former first-round pick a chance to win a rotation spot in 2012 after he started in college and the minors.

Crow told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that he’s “comfortable” starting and is “going into spring training with the goal of making the rotation.”

As is the case with most young pitchers it makes sense to find out if Crow can thrive in a 200-inning role before locking him into a 70-inning role, but control problems could derail his attempts to become a top-of-the-rotation starter. He walked 3.5 batters per nine innings as a starter in the minors and issued 31 free passes in 62 innings as a reliever with the Royals,

Crow seems to recognize that, telling Dutton that “the biggest thing for a starter is to keep your pitch count low, pound the strike zone and get quick outs.” If he can effectively do that Crow certainly has the raw stuff and multi-pitch repertoire to succeed as a starter, but “pound the strike zone” seems easier said than done for a 25-year-old with a history of iffy control.

Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio

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In something of a surprising move, the Chicago Cubs fired their pitching coach, Chris Bosio on Saturday. Bosio had held the job since the 2011-12 offseason.

The Cubs made the NLCS this year, but were nowhere as near the formidable as their 2016 World Series champion iteration. While there were several reasons for that, one was that the pitching staff, which featured multiple, better-than-expected performances in 2016, but took a step back in 2017. Some of that was personnel — Joe Maddon did not have Aroldis Chapman to call on in the postseason like he did last year — and a lot of that was mere regression from veterans like Jon Lester and John Lackey. A lot of it had to do with a much higher walk rate this year than in the past.

Still, there was no chatter during the season or at the time of the Cubs’ playoff exit the other day that Bosio might be a fall guy. The Chicago Tribune reports that it was Joe Maddon’s call and that he had grown displeased with Bosio. The Tribune report suggests that Cubs pitchers will be displeased with the move as they were devoted to Bosio. Coaches, of course, come and go, so I suspect they’ll get over it.

Whatever the case, Bosio likely won’t say unemployed for long. He is widely credited with helping Jake Arrieta transform from a project to an ace and for the considerable and the somewhat unexpectedly successful development of Kyle Hendricks. The Tribune suggests that he’d be a good fit in Minnesota, where his former teammate Paul Molitor is in search of a new pitching coach.

There are several intriguing coaches available at the moment, most notably Mike Maddux, who has been the Nationals pitching coach but whose status is now in flux given the firing of Dusty Baker. Maddux’s brother Greg, of course, is a spring training pitching instructor for the Cubs. The Tribune adds that Maddon may look to his old Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey or, possibly, even recently fired Red Sox manager John Farrell, who made his bones as a pitching coach.