"Kyle Farnsworth is competing for a job in the rotation," pitching coach Bob McClure revealed Wednesday.
"We're going to lengthen him out and see how it goes," McClure said. "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. [...] Now he's throwing two types of fastballs [two-seam and four-seam], which I think is really going to help him, we had some comments from other teams going, 'When did he start doing that? He should have done that a long time ago.'"
The wisdom of taking advice from your rivals about your own pitchers aside, this seems like a pretty good idea for the Royals. Farnsworth came up through the minor leagues as a starting pitcher and made 26 starts with the Cubs to start his career. Granted, that was 10 years ago and the reason that he was transitioned into the bullpen was that he wasn't an effective starter, but he's at least demonstrated that he was capable of starting in the past.
Farnsworth made $4.5M last year and his ERA as a "set-up man" was 4.48. As Joe Posnanski pointed out last June, Krazy Kyle had a knack - like most of us believed when he was in New York - for giving up runs in crucial spots. We even saw it first hand.
I like the fact that the Royals are trying something that goes against conventional baseball thinking. You can question the level of risk involved with trying to make a 34 year old pitcher who has been relieving for 10 years into a starter, but there's no question Farnsworth has the potential to contribute more value to the team if he can become a member of the rotation.
Who knows if this is going to work out for them. Odds are it probably won't. But unless Farnsworth gets seriously hurt during his attempt to become a starter, what have they really lost? Best case scenario: he throws 100-something innings of league average ball as a starter. Worst case scenario: he gets hurt and can't sabatoge the Royals' bullpen anymore. Everybody wins!