Going into this week, the Royals hadn’t lost a series and were getting solid pitching from the rotation and the bullpen. The staff last week had a combined ERA of 2.87 in 53.1 innings.
It was a bit of a different story this week.
In two series, the Royals went 2-5, including their first series loss, a three game sweep at the hands of the Rangers.
Some of the breaks the Royals got in the first two weeks weren’t happening this week, but it wasn’t all bad. Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur extended hitting streaks, Mike Aviles and Kila Ka’aihue woke up (a bit) after early struggles. And Kyle Davies – dare I say it – looked like a real major league starter.
But 2-5 is still 2-5 and excepting a walk-off win on Thursday, they could have come away with just one win. We’ll see why after looking at the numbers:
Slash stats: .256/.317/.403
Runs scored: 30 (4.28/game)
Home runs: 6 (4 solo)
Walkrate: 8.6% (for the year, they’re walking in 9.1% of plate appearances)
11 stolen bases in 12 attempts
16-66 with runners in scoring position – the Royals missed some opportunities here
Innings pitched: 61
Staff ERA: 5.75
Starters ERA: 5.72
Bullpen ERA: 5.82
K/BB ratio: 47/34 (1.38/1)
Staff WHIP: 1.72
Perfect Luke Hochevar innings: 5
Disastrous Luke Hochevar innings: 1
Alex Gordon, 9-27 – extended hitting streak to 18 games
Jeff Francoeur, 8-25, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 BB (four walks!)
Mike Aviles, 5-15, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB
Kyle Davies, 12 IP, 1 BB, 10 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Billy Butler, 6-25 (though he’s walked five times)
Alcides Escobar, 5-27
Chris Getz, 4-23
Tim Collins, 4 IP, 6 BB, 9.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP
Jeremy Jeffress, 2 IP, 13.50 ERA, 5 BB, 4.00 WHIP and a throwing error
The Royals didn’t hit well and missed scoring opportunities, but they hit well enough to win a couple of the games they lost. On Monday, Kyle Davies left with a lead but Jeffress couldn’t throw strikes and committed an error that allowed Cleveland to tie the score. Tim Collins blew up in the tenth inning and a tie game ended up a four-run loss. Jeffress struggled on Sunday too, walking the bases loaded then walking in a run and a bases clearing double.
When he’s on, he has remarkable stuff. Armed with a 97-100 mph fastball and a wicked curve, he could strike out any batter he faces. Of course, he has to throw strikes to do that, and it seems that’s a problem. He’s had trouble with control his entire career, and he’s gotten by with his velocity. Maybe he doesn’t trust his stuff, or he’s the typical fireballer who starts out wild but figures out how to harness his power. Randy Johnson was like that, among many others.
The bullpen got a boost, though, with the promotion of Louis Coleman from Omaha. Coleman pitched three innings in his first week in the big leagues and gave up no runs. He’s got a chance to make an impact in relief alongside Aaron Crow who’s yet to surrender a run (and is officially sponsored by Kings of Kauffman on Baseball=Reference.com).
This is a big week for the Royals. After early success, it seemed to be easy, but now, the Royals get a chance to see how their young team reacts to adversity. Past Royals teams would take a week like this and fold up, losing 7, 8, 9 games in a row. Luke Hochevar will start on Tuesday in Cleveland, and while he’s not a “stopper” in the mold of an ace, he pitched well for five innings on Wednesday and going back to his previous start, had retired 31 batters in a row. If anyone in the rotation is going to be that guy, it’s Hochevar.
The aggression on the basepaths continues, and the Royals are picking the right spots to run. They’ve been successful on 30 of 35 attempts.
After an off day, the Royals land in Cleveland for a three game series before returning to Kansas City to host Minnesota for three games. Cleveland’s playing well and could have won three of four last week (and threatened in the ninth in another game) and Minnesota, as we all know, has seemed to turn the Royals into bumbling kids out there.
To be successful, Billy Butler will have to get back on track. He’s gotten three hits in his last 19 at bats and struck out six times in that stretch. The rest of the team needs to continue to be patient at the plate. In the last two games, the Royals only worked two walks total while striking out 20 times (and had a 27/6 K/BB ratio against Rangers pitching). They have plenty of hitters who are hitting well right now and some who are starting to pick it up, so getting baserunners on will be key to creating runs.
Maybe in a week, we can celebrate some AL Central domination (and Gordon can keep his hitting streak rolling).