Felipe Paulino has pitched 150 innings as a member of the Kansas City Royals. In that time, his record is just 6-7, but he has compiled a 3.66 ERA with 148 strikeouts in 24 starts and one relief appearance. By Royals’ standards, and even major league standards, his ERA and other pitching statistics are impressive considering the American League is known for its hitting prowess (.253 AL average this season).
It hasn’t always been like this for Paulino, who at age 28 has a career 5.06 ERA in five years of big league experience. He struggled mightily as a member of the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies (6-25, 5.93 ERA in 223 innings), but has found his potential in Kansas City.
Paulino has always had a power arm, 349 strikeouts in 373 innings display that. According to FanGraphs.com, Paulino’s average fastball velocity of 95.4 mph ranks 2nd in the majors, trailing only the Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg (95.8 mph). Unfortunately for Paulino, injuries have held his game back, as well as the fact that teams haven’t been sure if he should be in the starting rotation or bullpen. The Royals believe in Paulino as a starter and he is doing the most to build on his opportunity.
The Royals 4.31 team ERA currently ranks 25th in the majors (12th in AL). Paulino’s 1.42 ERA is best on the team, as well his 1.14 WHIP (average walks and hits). His 10.3 strikeout per nine innings ratio is much higher than the next best current starter Luke Hochevar who has a 6.99 K/9 ratio (Danny Duffy posted a 9.11 K/9 ratio in his outings this season). Paulino also leads the team with a 4.14 strikeout-walk ratio. He’s dominating left-handed batters who are only hitting .196 against him, and he is producing respectable results against right-handed hitters limiting them to a .282 average.
For a starting rotation that looks drastically different than it did the opening week of the season, no thanks to some injuries, Paulino is certainly providing a bright spot for a team that desperately needs it in the pitching department. Now the question is, will he finish out the season pitching strong and staying durable? Consider that the 139.1 innings he threw last year for the Royals were the most in his big league career.
Paulino takes the mound Saturday at Camden Yards against the Baltimore Orioles. He threw seven shutout innings against the O’s at Kauffman Stadium on May 16, taking a no decision while scattering five hits and striking out nine.