The competition to become the No. 5 starter for the Kansas City Royals in 2013 began with five names: Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Luis Mendoza, Will Smith and Yordano Ventura. With less than a week before Opening Day, the team has announced a winner.

Mendoza will pitch behind James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis in the team’s starting rotation (via the Kansas City Star).

After a strong spring in which he allowed just one run in 11 innings, Mendoza hopes to carry his success over to the regular season and help the Royals compete whenever his turn is up.

That was my main goal. But it’s not just that, I want to do my best, pitch well, pitch to win and help my teammates to have the opportunity to win games.

While the Royals made the correct decision here, the move places another expensive arm in the bullpen—ultimately taking a spot away from a potentially more deserving, cheaper and younger arm.

With both Hochevar and Chen (making over $9 million in combined salary this season) entering the season as relievers, Kansas City’s decision on who to include in the team’s seven-man bullpen is no easy task.

Greg Holland is the team’s closer, with Kelvin Herrera serving as his primary setup man. Aaron Crow and Tim Collins are also entrenched in their roles.

Assuming the Royals do keep Chen and Hochevar in the bullpen, there is only one spot remaining for Louis Coleman, Donnie Joseph, Francisley Bueno, Dan Wheeler or J.C. Gutierrez to claim. Not to mention that Smith, Nate Adcock and Everett Teaford will be stashed at Triple-A Omaha until their services may also be needed.

Having options is never a bad thing, especially for a team that struggles to compete like the Royals. But with Hochevar and Chen blocking players that seem to have a long-term future in Kansas City, this franchise must start making better decisions on how to construct its pitching staff.


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