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Royals option Yordano Ventura to Triple-A

The Royals have sent their Opening Day starter to the minors after a rough season.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals have optioned Opening Day starter Yordano Ventura to Triple-A Omaha, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star:

Ventura has made 14 starts for the Royals this season, pitching 76⅓ innings. He has a 5.19 ERA, but a FIP of just 3.69 and a 1.35 WHIP. He has walked 25 and struck out 65.

The strikeout and walk rates for Ventura are very similar to what they were in 2014, when he posted a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings with a 1.30 WHIP and 3.60 FIP in leading the Royals to the World Series. The big change for Ventura is that his BABIP against this season is .321, compared to .288 last season, and he is stranding just 64.8 percent of runners after stranding 77.3 percent in 2014.

The Royals were already rumored to be in the market for a starting pitcher, perhaps the Reds' Johnny Cueto or Oakland's Scott Kazmir, and the decision to option Ventura, who they were counting on to be a key member of their rotation in 2015, only enhances that need.

Regardless of Kansas City's long-term plans, demoting Ventura now is a bold move that very well could change their plans at the trade deadline, making them even more aggressive buyers than they were already going to be.

As a corresponding move to Ventura's demotion, the Royals activated lefty Jason Vargas from the 15-day disabled list. Vargas, who has a 4.10 ERA in eight starts this season, will join Edinson Volquez, Jeremy Guthrie, Chris Young and Danny Duffy in Kansas City's rotation. Of that group, only Volquez and Young have an ERA+ above 100. Guthrie in particular has struggled, with a 5.36 ERA in 100⅔ innings this season.