Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Royals were involved in a brawl with Yordano Ventura at the center.
Okay, don’t stop me because I’d actually prefer that you read this.
I didn’t watch much of the game last night. After five straight losses, when the game started off the way it did with the Royals down by four before they even batted a second time, I had had enough. The night was beautiful and this team right now is simply not. Because I write about the team and talk about them on radio, I can’t do this often, but last night, I chose to turn it off. And it was nice.
Later in the evening, I decided to check in on social media and watch some of the highlights, you know, just to be able to speak to what happened. That’s when I saw that all hell broke loose. And here we are, I have thoughts about a game that I barely watched.
My first thought is that even without the fight, it’s time for something to be done with Yordano Ventura. If it was purely performance, I’d go back to something I mentioned briefly in a previous article and suggest he spend some time in the bullpen. That way he’d be able to continue to work with Dave Eiland, who is theoretically the pitching coach he needs to work with regularly. It would allow him to throw some low leverage innings and maybe figure out exactly why he can’t throw his fastball anywhere but way out of the strike zone or right down the middle.
After the incident last night, I can’t see a way that Ventura should be in the big leagues anymore, though. And maybe not for the rest of the season. Look, it’s not like we’re sitting here in early June and he has a 2.57 ERA with the extracurricular activities of last night. He has a 5.32 ERA. He walks too many batters. He doesn’t strike out enough. He gives up too many hits. At this particular moment, Ventura is a bad pitcher with a bad temper who makes bad decisions.
It was pretty clear last night that the Royals as a team were there to back up their teammate, but there wasn’t much else behind it. When Manny Machado charged the mound, Salvador Perez was right behind him, but it almost looked like he did so begrudgingly. After the game, Ned Yost admitted that the team probably was a little tired of it. I can’t say for certain because I’m not there, but it sure looks like Ventura doesn’t have much support on his team for his actions. Pitch well, and maybe you can look past it. You pitch like he has and there’s no reason to keep him in the big leagues at this point.
Let’s shift gears to Machado for a second. Nobody should pretend like he’s a completely innocent bystander in all this. Ventura pitched inside on him twice in the second (I actually saw this before I turned the game off). He didn’t like it. I get it. If someone was throwing fastballs in the upper-90s that came anywhere near me, I’d be annoyed by it. But I’m also not a professional baseball player. Then he stared down a fly ball and stared down Ventura at the end of that at bat. At that point, you had a feeling something was going to happen later on. And then it did.
Machado has a bit of a history as well (remember when he threw a bat down the third base line?), but he has two things working in his advantage in terms of public perception. As a hitter, it’s more difficult for him to start the melees, and he’s actually very good. When you’re good and you get involved in brawls somewhat regularly, you’re fiery. When you’re not good and you get involved in brawls somewhat regularly, you’re looked at as a bad seed. That’s just the way it is, right or wrong.
At some point during tonight’s game, there’s a moderate chance a Royals player gets hit by a pitch. It might be an accident, it might not, but whoever gets hit (Hosmer or Lorenzo Cain in all likelihood) might find themselves hurt from that. I hope not, but that’s the reality and the real possibility for this evening. The hope for them is that the Orioles feel like they don’t need to get revenge because revenge was already served with Machado landing a punch on Ventura, who, remember, seemed to be on an island during this whole thing.
Bigger picture, maybe this lights a fire under the Royals. Based on what happened directly following the ejections, that doesn’t seem to be the case, but maybe this team needed some controversy to find whatever it is they’re lacking at this moment. I’d move forward with demoting Ventura, calling up probably Dillon Gee to take his spot in the rotation and hoping the Royals can get back on track and then get completely healthy.
As Craig Brown said in last night’s recap, you can’t defend Ventura at this point. I guess I can sort of understand that you can like the competitive nature of what he did, but I personally just think the whole thing was stupid.
I’m not really sure that I have a grand point to this whole thing other than to just talk through what I saw, but the whole incident was both fascinating and infuriating, so I wanted to share some thoughts.