The Royals gave Wade Davis a chance to win a rotation spot this spring even after he struggled as a starter last season, but Royals manager Ned Yost told Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star this morning that the 28-year-old right-hander is out of the fifth starter competition and will pitch out of the back end of the bullpen in 2014.
It’s the right call, as Davis posted a 5.67 ERA in 24 starts last season before being yanked from the rotation. The 28-year-old immediately saw a velocity spike after being moved back to the bullpen and allowed just one run in 10 innings in September. He posted a 2.43 ERA and 87 strikeouts over 70 1/3 innings as a reliever with the Rays in 2012, so the hope is that he can help make up for the absence of Luke Hochevar, who is set to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Davis was a long shot to win a rotation spot anyway, but the fifth starter job will now come down to Yordano Ventura or Danny Duffy. James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas, and Bruce Chen will fill out the first four spots.
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.