Stupid leap year.
Were it not for the extra day tacked on the 2012 calendar, we'd have a nice and symmetrical narrative for Vin Mazzaro's first start of the season. It was last May 16 that the Kansas City Royals pitcher posted a gruesome line for the ages, giving up 14 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings of work during a 19-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians. He was immediately demoted to Triple-A Omaha after the game and became the subject of many a vivisection the next morning.
Still, 365 days since becoming the only pitcher since 1947 to surrender 14 earned runs in a single appearance seems like enough to qualify as a curious coincidence. And perhaps he can exorcise the bad taste from that pounding with a good one Tuesday night.
Considering that Mazzaro will be facing the powerful Texas Rangers lineup, that seems unlikely. But if he were to somehow pull off five or six solid innings to earn a "W," it would provide a nice circle-of-life symmetry to Mazzaro's narrative ... wouldn't it?
As Royals Review notes, Mazzaro went on to make five additional appearances in 2011 after that game against Cleveland, allowing a much more respectable 10 runs over 22 innings pitched. But falling on the grenade for the workload of Kansas City's bullpen that night has had its consequences for the 25-year-old right-hander. With the 14 earned-run outing, his career ERA sits at 5.12. Without the 14 earned runs, his career ERA would be 4.61.
Mazzaro started this season at Triple-A Omaha and maybe it's safe to say that the Royals aren't expecting him to show that upside that had him traded from Oakland to Kansas City in 2010 for a proven major leaguer like David DeJesus. Back in January, The Royals Authority affixed this label to him: "Organizational filler. Triple-A starter. Break glass only in case of emergency."
That may be a fitting description for Mazzaro, who was recently called up to provide bullpen depth and is now only starting because of the injuries to Danny Duffy and Jonathan Sanchez.
Still, I'm going to be pulling for him when he takes the mound at Rangers Ballpark Tuesday night. Mazzaro was forced to keep pitching in a bad situation almost a year ago and it'd be nice to have something nice to write about him after all he's gone through.