Royals tab Ventura to start Game 1 of ALDS

Cueto to start Game 2; Volquez gets call for Game 3

Royals tab Ventura to start Game 1 of ALDS

KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost finally made official what anyone who has been following the team has known for weeks: Right-hander Yordano Ventura will start Game 1 of the American League Division Series at 6:30 p.m. CT on Thursday (watch on FS1) at Kauffman Stadium against the Astros.

Right-hander Johnny Cueto and right-hander Edinson Volquez will start Games 2 and 3, respectively. That's how the rotation has lined up for quite some time.

"For us the last two or three weeks, all three of those guys have been throwing the ball pretty good," Yost said Tuesday before the team's workout. "Ventura has really been excellent in his last five, six, seven starts. We wanted to keep everyone on five days' rest."

Game Date Result
Gm 1 Oct. 8 HOU 5, KC 2
Gm 2 Oct. 9 KC 5, HOU 4
Gm 3 Oct. 11 HOU 4, KC 2
Gm 4 Oct. 12 KC 9, HOU 6
Gm 5 Oct. 14 KC 7, HOU 2

If there is a Game 4, it wouldn't be shocking if Yost went back to Ventura on short rest over Chris Young or Kris Medlen, though he wasn't hinting that way Tuesday.

"We're going to focus on the first three games," Yost said. "If we get past it, we'll make a determination on that then."

Ventura clearly has been the team's best starter the past two months. Since being demoted in late July and instantly recalled when Jason Vargas suffered a season-ending elbow injury, Ventura is 9-1 with a 3.10 ERA.

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It has been quite a turnaround for Ventura, who was the team's Opening Day starter.

"I think at the beginning of the year, I put a lot on him being the No. 1 starter," Yost said. "He really wanted to step up and be that guy, and he put a lot of pressure on himself. He's a young guy. But I think as the year went by, he felt some adversity and he learned from it."

What triggered Ventura's turnaround? Both Yost and general manager Dayton Moore had theories.

"I think it was just his time to step up," Yost said. "He'd been through all these experiences, and I think it was just his time to turn it around.

"I think the addition of Johnny Cueto helped him turn it around. Johnny was a young guy, too, who had been down that road and became very successful. He helped Ventura get through this.

"[Pitching coach] Dave Eiland has been telling him the same things all year, like keep your passion but be a professional. But when one of your fellow countrymen tells you that, it makes sense to you. From the time we acquired Johnny Cueto, the trend for Yordano went upward."

Moore's take?

"He has great talent, and at some point, the talent becomes consistent; and when it does, the talent dominates," Moore said. "Fortunately, he has put together some outings that have been very beneficial to him and to us."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.