Monday, September 21, 2009

Tejeda does it again

Game Date: September 20, 2009
Kansas City @ Chicago
Royals 2, White Sox 1 / Box Score
WP: Tejeda (4-1), LP: Garcia (2-3), SV: Soria (26)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 61-88 / Record in September 11-7

Robinson Tejeda was a starter before coming to Kansas City. He started 13 games for the Phillies in 2005, 14 games for the Rangers in 2006, and 19 games for the Rangers in 2007. He also spent portions of all of those seasons in the minor leagues and he was used primarily as a starter down there too. But the Rangers put him in the bullpen in Oklahoma City in 2008 while also mixing in a few starts and he posted a 2.18 ERA. He didn’t fare so well at the big league level for them out of the pen (9.00 ERA in 2008), but when he came over to the Royals in 2008, they used him almost exclusively in the pen (he did make one spot start) and he ended the season in Kansas City with a 3.20 ERA.

We expected more of the same from him this season and for the most part, he’s met our expectations. But none of us could have expected what he’s doing since he’s been pressed into the starting rotation. He’s been amazing. In his four starts this season, spanning 22.1 innings, he’s given up just two earned runs. During that stretch, his ERA is 0.81 and batters are hitting just .117 against him. He’s not going deep into games, but you can’t really expect him to since he’s been coming out of the pen all season.

If you break his career numbers down by role, you won’t see a big difference. As a starter, he’s 17-17 with a 4.41 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP in 51 games. As a reliever, he’s 3-3 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP in 70 games. But you have to wonder if he hasn’t figured something out this season. A.J. Pierzynski notices something different:

“He’s good. The difference was when he was coming out of the bullpen he was throwing 97, 98 mph, now he is 91, 92 and he spots it a lot better and doesn’t fall behind too many guys. It’s pretty amazing seeing the transformation a guy can make from going from the bullpen to being a starter and having the success that he’s had. He’s done it four or five times now so it’s not a fluke.”

Tejeda picked up his fourth win of the season yesterday, pitching six innings and giving up just one earned run. Unfortunately, he’s been fighting against a blister on his pitching hand. Let’s hope it doesn’t keep him from making his final couple of starts.

Roman Colon pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless ball. And Joakim Soria got a five-out save to nail down the win.

The Royals didn’t manage much offense, but Willie Bloomquist scored in the first inning on a wild pitch and Mitch Maier drove in Josh Anderson with a single in the third and that was enough. Speaking of Anderson, did you see his nice catch in center field? He went over the wall and brought it back. You can watch the video of the play on the Royals’ website. Tejeda promised Anderson a dinner for making the play.

They Royals have won 10 of their last 13 and surprisingly they have caught the Indians, who have lost eight games in a row, in the AL Central even though they have scored nearly 100 runs less than the Indians this season.

The Royals begin a new series tonight against the Red Sox. Lenny DiNardo (0-1, 5.23) goes up against Tim Wakefield (11-4, 4.22). DiNardo is 1-0 against the Red Sox in his career with a 3.60 ERA in 15.0 IP. Wakefield is 11-6 against the Royals with a 3.79 ERA in 142.2 IP.

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