Jeremy Affeldt made another case for a spot in the rotation Wednesday evening with a very strong outing against the Seattle Mariners in Surprise.
Affeldt pitched 6.0 innings and threw 81 pitches, well on his way to building up the endurance needed to be a starter. He gave up one hit and one run while striking out three. He walked just one batter.
Affeldt had struggled in the past, and I’ve stated before that I believe that the Royals can be blamed for his struggles.
When Affeldt first arrived in Kansas City as a starter, he was impressive but had trouble with blisters developing on the middle finger of his pitching hand. The Royals moved him to the bullpen to reduce the number of pitches he threw in hopes of reducing the blister problem. Eventually, Affeldt had the fingernail removed from his finger, and the blister problems seemed to be solved.
The Royals continued to switch Affeldt between relief and starting roles, including a stint as a closer, finally relegating him to mop up duty in 2005.
Also during the time, the Royals changed pitching coaches several times, and at one point, asked Affeldt pitch to contact instead of trying to strike out batters. All of this instability can only hurt a pitcher.
This off season Affeldt asked for a chance to start. After some thought, the Royals agreed to give him a shot at the rotation, and after a rocky start, he has performed well in Spring Training. With the injuries to Mark Redmond and Zack Greinke, there potentially is a spot open for Affeldt. If they don’t allow him to start, then I think the Royals should trade Affeldt before switching his role around yet again, and while there is still some perceived value in him.
Here’s what my Opening Day Rotation would look like:
When Redmond comes back from his injury, trade Mays. When and if Greinke comes back, trade Elarton.