The Pittsburgh Pirates still need to add one more starting pitcher this offseason, and Yordano Ventura could be a potential trade target.
Entering the offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates needed to add two starting pitchers. Their 2017 starting rotation will have Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon at the top and Chad Kuhl as their fifth starter. However, they needed two pitchers to slot in between them.
Well, one of these two slots have been filled. That happened when the Pirates re-signed Ivan Nova to a new three-year contract. The team still needs to add another starting pitcher, and, in my opinion, Royals’ starting pitcher Yordano Ventura is a pitcher Neal Huntington should target.
The 25-year old Ventura is coming off of a down season for the Royals. However, he has absolutely electric stuff and was a key cog to the Royals winning back-to-back American League Pennants in 2014 and 2015. And there are a lot of reasons to expect him to bounce back in 2017.
Last season, Ventura pitched 186 innings in 32 starts for the Royals. He averaged a career low 6.97 K/9, a career high 3.77 BB/9, and he allowed a career high 23 home runs. All of this resulted in Ventura posting a 4.45 ERA, 4.59 FIP, 4.59 xFIP, and a 1.5 WAR, all of which were career lows, in 2016.
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Walks and home runs were the Achilles Heel of Yordano Ventura in 2016. In 2014 and 2015 he was much better. During these two season he averaged 8.06 K/9, 3.29 BB/9, and he allowed 28 home runs in 339 1/3 innings pitched. During this stretch Ventura posted a 3.66 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 3.70 xFIP, and a 5.1 WAR.
Yordano Ventura throws three main pitches. These three pitches are a fastball, a cutter, and a change up. The best pitch of the bunch is tough to decipher. A strong argument can be made for both his cutter and his change up as being his best pitch. Additionally, Ventura also throws a plus fastball.
Last season, Ventura’s fastball averaged 96.2 miles per hour. This is well above the league average for a starting pitcher. However, it is a pitch that gets hit hard. In 2016 opposing hitters had a .538 slugging percentage and a 162 wRC+ off of his fastball.
Despite being hit hard, Ventura’s fastball can still be an elite pitch. He needs to do a better job of controlling it. Additionally, he needs to allow less hard contact off of his fastball. And no pitching coach in baseball is better than Ray Searage at helping pitchers improve their control and allow less hard contact.
As for his cutter and change up, both have been elite pitches in recent years. In 2016 opposing batters owned just a .251 slugging percentage and a wRC+ of 29 off of his cutter. Off of his change up these numbers were .355 and 98.
Some times, players just need a change of scenery. I truly believe that Yordano Ventura is one of these players. The Royals have soured on him and he, in turn, has soured on them. Getting him into Pittsburgh and giving him Ray Searage to work with could help him get his career back on track.
Another big plus about Ventura is his contract. He is under team control through 2021 at a very reasonable price. He is owed 3.25 million dollars in 2017, 6.25 million in 2018, 9.75 million in 2019, and then he has a 12 million dollar option for both 2020 and 2021. Due to this contract, he could be a big part of the Pirate rotation for the foreseeable future.
One knock on Ventura is that he can be a bit of a head case. He has been suspended in the best for his role in bean ball wars. And this is a big reason why there are rumors that the Royals might be willing to trade him.
Personally, I view Yordano Ventura as a fiery competitor. And this is something that I love, especially in a starting pitcher. His behaviors on the field in no way, shape, or form would scare me away from him.
In my opinion, Yordano Ventura would be a great fit in the Pirate rotation. He has fantastic stuff, he is young, and he comes with five years of team control. Ventura, along with Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl, Nick Kingham, and Tyler Glasnow, could give the Pirates an extremely formidable starting rotation for a long time.