Jeremy Guthrie is a journeyman pitcher. He has the numbers to prove it.
In 10 years in the big leagues, he's pitched for four different teams and compiled a less-than-spectacular 62-81 record with a 4.24 career ERA.
Two times, Guthrie has led the American League in losses. He dropped 17 games as a member of the Baltimore Orioles in both 2009 and 2011.
That said, Guthrie seems to have been a decent pickup for Kansas City. The Royals acquired him July 20, 2012, from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Jonathan Sanchez. Guthrie finished the year strong, going 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts. That was good enough for the Royals to sign him to a three-year, $25 million contract over the offseason.
So far this season, Guthrie has gone 7-4 with a 3.72 ERA in 14 starts. In 28 total starts with the Royals, he's 12-7 with a 3.44 ERA -- well above his career norms.
Career renaissance? Maybe, but if you dig a little deeper, you'll notice that Guthrie's sudden improvement in a Kansas City uniform is based solely upon his dominance of one team: the White Sox.
Of Guthrie's 28 starts with Kansas City, six of them have been against the Sox. Here are his pitching lines for those games:
Aug. 8, 2012 - Kansas City 2, White Sox 1
8 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 Ks, 0 BBs - W
Aug. 19, 2012 - Kansas City 5, White Sox 2
7.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 8 Ks, 2 BBs - ND
Sept. 9, 2012 - Kansas City 2, White Sox 1
8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 Ks, 0 BBs - ND
Sept. 20, 2012 - Kansas City 4, White Sox 3
6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 Ks, 1 BB - ND
April 4, 2013 - Kansas City 3, White Sox 1
6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 9 Ks, 1 BB - W
May 4, 2013 - Kansas City 2, White Sox 0
9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 Ks, 1 BB - W
Guthrie has started 197 games in his career. The game on May 4 of this year was his first and only complete-game shutout. In 44.2 innings against the Sox over the last two seasons, Guthrie has allowed just two earned runs on 30 hits. He has struck out 34 and walked just five. He is 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA in the six starts listed above.
Here are Guthrie's numbers since joining Kansas City:
vs. White Sox: 3-0, 0.40 ERA in 6 starts
vs. all other teams: 9-7, 4.42 ERA in 22 starts
Take away his numbers against the Sox, and Guthrie is the same mediocre bum he's always been. I can't believe the Royals wasted $25 million on him, but give them credit, they do have almost an automatic win every time he pitches against the Sox.
Guthrie will pitch Friday night against Chicago. The Sox have fallen on hard times lately. They've lost 17 of their last 22 games. I dare say Guthrie is about the last pitcher they want to face at this time. But that's the situation the South Siders find themselves in Friday in Kansas City.