by John Viril—Off-season acquisition Ervin Santana took the mound today in his first start for the Royals. He struggled through six innings in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the White Sox in Chicago, displaying all of the red flags that skeptics used to criticize the trade that brought him to Kansas City.
Santana’s fastball fluctuated between 92 and 89 mph—showing that he had not recovered the 2 mph velocity he lost during the course of last season. He gave up 3 home runs after hanging multiple pitches up in the strike zone. As blogger Rany Jazayerli pointed out, the gopher ball has been Ervin Santana’s nemesis throughout his career. Displaying both of these weaknesses in his first start does not bode well for the decision that put Ervin Santana in the no. 2 rotation slot.
Early on, Santana struggled with his location. He never solved the problem as he left numerous pitches high in the strike zone. Multiple times throughout the day, Royals catcher Salvador Perez gestured with his glove to remind Santana to keep the ball down. He did have good movement on his pitches and struck out 8 in 6 innings of work. He walked only one batter and surrendered 4 runs on 5 hits while taking his first loss of 2013.
I suppose it is somewhat encouraging that Ervin Santana managed to last 6 innings despite fighting his control much of the day. He missed bats and looks like he will eat innings if his arm holds up. However, his low velocity does nothing to ally worries that he might be headed for arm injury.
Luke Hochevar entered in the 7th inning and promptly gave up a home run to SS Alexei Ramirez. Hochevar then surrendered a single and issued a walk. The runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd on CF Alejandro De Aza‘s bunt sacrifice. Luke only escaped the inning after Salvador Perez ran down Hochevar’s wild pitch and threw out Chicago catcher Tyler Flowers at home plate for the second out. White Sox third baseman Jeff Keppinger then lined out to right. Hochevar’s performance showed that hiding him in the pen has done nothing to help his ability to pitch with runners on base.
Wednesday’s performance did not look good for two of GM Dayton Moore’s more questionable 2013 roster decisions.