Last season, only three Royals starters tossed more than 91 innings and only Jeremy Guthrie, who pitched half the season for the Rockies, posted an ERA below 4.00.
Suffice to say, Kansas City skipper Ned Yost is enjoying his remodeled rotation, which has steered the Royals to the top of the American League Central.
"It's a whole new learning process for me," Yost said. "Last year, you get past the fifth and you start looking at matchups. Now with these guys, you let 'em go. You don't worry about matchups unless they're just getting absolutely hammered or until the 90- or 100-pitch mark."
Wade Davis, part of the rotation renaissance, will take the hill for the Royals on Monday in the series finale against the Indians. After a year in Tampa Bay's bullpen, Davis has seamlessly transitioned back to the rotation. In four outings this year, the right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA.
Meanwhile, Cleveland's rotation has been in flux for most of April. Manager Terry Francona has employed eight different starting pitchers, and Monday's starter Ubaldo Jimenez has been an enigma on the mound.
Jimenez has compiled a 10.06 ERA in four starts, including a 14.73 ERA over his last three outings. Only once has he lasted longer than five innings. He pitched into the sixth in his last start, but was pulled before he could record an out. He entered the frame having retired 14 consecutive batters.
To keep his mechanics in order, Jimenez has been throwing two side sessions between starts. He's had extra time during the current turn in the rotation, as he hasn't pitched since April 21 because of two rainouts and an off-day. Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway likes what he has seen in Jimenez's extra work. The question, as always with Jimenez, is whether it will translate into progress during an actual game.
"It's been really good," Callaway said of Jimenez's side work. "I thought he was really good his last time out. His stride direction was really good and he took it right into his 'pen. We worked a little more inbetween the last couple starts on being out of the stretch and things like that. He's done a really good job."
Indians: Marson returns to DL
• Catcher Lou Marson landed on the disabled list for the second time this season. On Sunday, the Indians recalled Yan Gomes to take the roster spot of Marson, who is suffering from inflammation in his right shoulder.
"His big strength is catching and throwing," Francona said of Marson. "I looked at his numbers from years past, he was always among the league leaders. So we need to try to get him back to that, in fairness to him. He was willing to try to work through it, because he's kind of a hard-nosed kid and he prides himself on that."
• Center fielder Michael Bourn might not return from the disabled list on Tuesday, when he is eligible to be activated. Bourn suffered a finger injury on a head-first slide into first base.
"I don't think he's quite as comfortable as he'd like to be," Francona said. "Knowing him, he wanted to like pick it up and go. So I kind of grabbed him [on Saturday] and said, 'The artificial timetable of when you come off the DL, that's all it is. We'll just get you back when you're ready.'"
Royals: Santana impressing opponents
• Ervin Santana, who blanked the Indians over seven innings on Saturday night, is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in five starts. Last April, he went 0-5 with a 6.16 ERA.
"Unfortunately, I think I've seen him good more than I haven't," Francona said. "His arm is tremendous. When you have to respect him in the strike zone, you can't eliminate any pitches. That's when he becomes very effective."
• Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy, both recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw 20-25 pitches on Saturday and hope to begin Minor League pitching assignments in the next month or two.
• Guthrie matched a franchise record on Sunday when he completed his 16th consecutive start without taking a loss. Over that stretch, Guthrie is 8-0 and the Royals are 14-2.
• The Indians scored 10 runs in the nightcap of Sunday's doubleheader. They had scored 10 runs in their previous 42 innings.