Fresh off a 9-8 extra inning loss to the Cardinals on Sunday, a game in which Royals pitchers walked 13(!) batters, the unraveling of the hot start has taken full effect. Back-to-back pick-offs, a badly slumping Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, and a bucket load of questionable bullpen moves have clouded the once sunny start for this Royals season.
The 13 walks could be considered a bit of an outlier – as they should be, that’s a huge number for just one game – if it didn’t happen just five days earlier against a Texas lineup without two of its better hitters. Apparently somewhere along the line the pitch-to-contact mantra that so many ignorant teams preach has been ignored by the Royals pitching staff, especially the relievers.
Given all that has happened in the last week to ten days however, including losing two games to the cross state rival and having Tony La Russa’s brilliance on full display, this Royals team is still prime for contention this year with the abundance of talent they have on the field, and the playoff team they could create now with all the prospects still in the minors leagues.
Sure you could read here that the Royals continue to make second division moves both with roster management and gameday management, and you could read that for some strange reason for every good move that is made, it seems to be inevitably followed by a not-so-good or just downright bad one. You could read that, but just not now.
Chris Getz continues to fill more than the last man on the bench role despite having a .320 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage that a good Division II player would have, but his gamer attitude and ability to hit the clutch 11-hop groundout behind a runner at second is an invaluable piece to a lineup. His unspectacular yet gloriously lauded defense is the key reason the Royals team 4.35 xFIP isn’t worse than the 4.44 xFIP of the Minnesota Twins, which is the worst in the major leagues. How could being compared to the Twins and how terrible they are be bad? That’s who the Royals should be emulating!
Alcides Escobar continues to lay claim to having the phrase “all glove, not hit shortstop” trademarked and register under his name, but there’s no quantifying how amazing he’s been this year not only for the fans visual enjoyment, but for the announcers to have something else to gush about like a 17 year old girl at the prom.
Everyone knows who Melky Cabrera is because of all the talent he played around in New York, thus all the times he played on national television, so his “hey I know that name” appeal means far more than a .305 on-base percentage and .328 wOBA ever could. He’s a winner, and winners win. It couldn’t matter less that he’s put up remarkably similar numbers to those of the rest of his career when he’s been little more than a 4th outfielder. No. Because now he’s figured things out and has been an amazing find in the bargain bin of Royals shopping.
And that’s just the offense. The pitching staff is full of potential.
Sean O’ Sullivan is in the midst of stretch where he’s only struck 2 of the last 100 batters he’s faced. Two. Why is he striking out two, doesn’t he know he’s got Escobar and Getz and Cabrera playing behind him?
Closer extraordinaire Joakim Soria has an xFIP that is almost a full run higher than his previous career worst, but there’s little cause for concern because he still has a 3-0 win/loss record.
The Royals had a bad weekend, sure, but look at what’s ahead. Danny Duffy pitches tomorrow night, he’s a product of The Process. Eric Hosmer is up, playing a great first base, and looks everything like the super star all Royals fans could have hoped he’d be. Luke Hochevar is leading by example for a young pitching staff that needs leadership, and he’s the original part of The Process. (Or maybe he’s not this week)
And none of those guys can touch what is coming with Mike Montgomery, Wil Myers, and the just-as-good-as Hosmer – despite having a career minor league on-base percentage nearly 60 points lower – Mike Moustakas.
Times are great right now for Royals fans. Nothing bad ever happens; no wrong decision is ever made. There’s no need to ever be objective or unemotional or have a different way of looking at how best to use the prospects to supplement a major league team in an open window of competing.
Everything, right now, is all good.
*My sincere thoughts and prayers to everyone in Joplin that was affected in any way by the tornado over the weekend. If you have the means, please donate or call the Red Cross to see how you can help.