May May May….the season was in full swing and Royals fans hoped and prayed that momentum might be maintained.*
*Alliteration is the bomb.
Spoiler Alert: Many thanks go out to Mike Engel for showing me how simple it is to throw your stats into a table and insert said table into your writing. The tables looked so nice and neat I frequently just stopped and admired them throughout the writing of this post.
May 1st-May 31st
(At least 3 games started)
The month of May was chapter 2 in the story of The Kansas City Royals: Starting Pitching that’s Painful To Watch. We saw the starting rotation get a little banged up. Bruce Chen got hurt and we missed him. On May 16, Kyle Davies hurt his shoulder in the 1st inning and Vin Mazzaro (who had spent the early part of the season in the minors and was considered a vague possibility as a spot starter in 2011) got thrown into the game a day before he was scheduled to pitch. What proceeded was 2.1 eye-gouging innings and 14 runs given up. Mazzaro was sent down after the game. I try to find the bright spot in everything and to do that I have to go to another game where a Royals starter got shelled. May 27th: Nate Adcock makes one of his two spot starts and gives up 7 runs in 2.2 innings. Enter former Rocky and recent acquisition Felipe Paulino. Felipe went 4.1 innings and gave up 1 hit…..I repeat, 1 hit. This was a sign of good things to come…..at least for one Royals starter.
May MVP of the month (SP): Jeff Francis- The fact that I’m calling Francis the MVP here shows you that there weren’t a lot of options to pick from. Not to say that Francis was terrible, but I’d hesitate to call him anything but mediocre during the month of May.
May Ugly Duckling of the month (SP): Sean O’Sullivan- You have to be pretty bad to post a 0.91 K/9 as a starting pitcher. I think we’d all agree that the likelihood of a starting pitcher being capable of averaging AT LEAST ONE STRIKEOUT PER NINE INNINGS is pretty high. Sadly enough, O’Sullivan was chomping at the bit to prove us wrong.
The bullpen still looked decent in May. However, several pitchers began to show decline. Tejeda and Jeffress were bad. Soria got knocked around a bit and Mazzaro was embarrassing (if you even want to count his contributions). I choose not to count them and relay to you that a Mazzaro-less bullpen pitched 93.1 innings and gave up 32 runs for an E.R.A. of 2.92. Not bad at all, but they were even more overworked in May than they had been the previous month.
May MVP(s) of the month (RP): Tim Collins/Blake Wood – Timmy came in and pitched well in relief. He kept his E.R.A. under 1.00 in 14 innings pitched and was solid despite giving up more walks than you’d like to see. Blake Wood continued a surprisingly good start to the season averaging over 8 strikeouts per 9 innings with an E.R.A. hovering just over 2.00
May Ugly Duckling(s) of the month (RP): Vin Mazzaro/Joakim Soria - Considering Mazzaro only pitched in one game and a game that he wasn’t even originally scheduled for at that, it may not be fair to place him here. On the other hand, he was really bad in that one game. Soria was 1-5 in save opportunities in the month of May with an 8.71 E.R.A. and showed a significant drop in velocity on his fastball. Some Royals fans began to wonder if management should have sold high when they had the chance. Others stood behind him and his history of success. Time would tell but there’s no denying that in May, Soria looked vulnerable.
Avg./OBP/SLG/OPS with at least 40 plate appearances
The Royals had a pretty bad month offensively. They scored 110 runs which averaged out to 4.07 runs per game. In March/April they scored 4.78 runs per game. This may not seem significant at first glance, but with a tired bullpen who couldn’t maintain the ferocity of the first month of the season coupled with starting pitching that was just continually bad, the drop in runs scored was the reason the Royals record suffered this month. If you have awful starting pitching, you have to score runs. The Royals didn’t hit as well or score as much in May and it showed.
May MVP of the month (Offensive): Matt Treanor - Go ahead and laugh if you want. Treanor had an OBP over .400 despite his .261 average. If you can find some way to get on base over 40 percent of the time for a whole month, you deserve some form of recognition.
May Ugly Duckling of the month (Offensive): Alcides Escobar - Alcides was electrifying defensively. With the stick? Well, he fizzled.
Starting Pitching - STINKY, though the chance to inject a little youth into the rotation with Danny Duffy was intriguing at least.
Relief Pitching - TIRED and OVERWORKED
Hitting - Here’s where it got exciting. After producing a line of .439/.525/.582/1.107 in 26 games of AAA ball, Eric Hosmer got the call-up to the big league club and played in his first major league game on May 6th. He finished the month with a line of .283/.321/.515/.836 and got Royals fans talking about his possibilities as a superstar.*
*We get excited pretty easily around here but at least in Hosmer’s case, it seems as if our reasoning may still be valid.
All in all, the Royals had a bad month where they went 10-17 and again showcased awful starting pitching. At the end of May, their overall record dropped to 24-30 and brought back to earth some of the fans who might have been a little too optimistic after the first month of the season.
Next week we head to June and take a look at the beginning of the Royals first long stretch of interleague play.