On Wednesday the 17th and Thursday the 18th, the Royals signed starting pitchers Edinson Volquez along with Kris Medlen. The Volquez contract is worth $20 million over two years and the Medlen contract is worth $8.5 over two years, with $10 million in incentives. The signing of both, signals that the Royals are preparing to say goodbye to James Shields, as Medlen and Volquez will replace Big Game James in the starting rotation. Edinson will most likely be the more solid replacement as Medlen is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, and might not be eligible to start until mid-season in 2015.
Once Kris is fully healthy though, he will most likely become the #2 behind the projected #1, Yordano Ventura. Medlen is 27 years old, but he did not throw a single pitch in 2014 and only started in 30 games between 2009-2012. When he is healthy, multiple coaches/scouts and analysts say Medlen’s arsenal of pitches produces some monstrous stuff. The first sniff of how good Medlen is, was in 2012 when he put up a record of 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA and a 0.913 WHIP, as he finished top 20 in the NL MVP voting considering he only pitched 138 innings, and was a reliever for 38 games. When he became a full time starter in 2013, the Braves saw that it was the right move, as he went 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA in 197 innings pitched. Even though his FIP was slightly higher than his ERA, what stood out was his ERA+ (ERA based on impact of ballpark, anything over 100 is good/great), which was 121 (league average was 100). Considering the bargain of a contract, the Royals signed a great arm, as Medlen could very well be the future of the Royals along with Yordano Ventura, as Kris is a solid starter when healthy (71% quality starts in 2013).
Edinson Volquez though is a different story when it comes to health, as he has averaged to pitch in 181.5 innings each of the last three seasons. However though, Volquez has had a roller coaster type of career, but 2014 was the second great season of his career with a record of 13-7. Over the course of his 31 starts in 2014 he posted a 3.04 ERA with a .650 win-loss% (league average was .495) with opponents batting only .235 against Edinson. The downside of his breakthrough season though was that his FIP was 4.15, plus he was a little wild as he threw a league leading 15 wild pitches. Coming to KC for 2015-2016 might fix both stats however, as KC has arguably the best defense in the MLB, which will bring down his FIP. But Volquez will have a harder time, however, with not throwing as many wild pitches, as he had one of the best plate framers in the game catching him in 2014 with Russell Martin, so Volquez might not be able to downgrade his wildness in 2015 because KC catcher Salvador Perez is no better than Martin behind the plate, but a change of catcher might be the right fix. The question for Volquez as the projected #5 starter will be: can he keep under control and not let up as many homers in 2015 as he did in 2014 (17). If Edinson can come to KC in 2015 with 2014 stuff, while his new teammate Kris Medlen brings some healthy pitching, they sure can replace Shields.