This is the beginning of a weekly post I’ll be doing every Sunday night that will take a look at the week in review, not to summarize or recap but to analyze that week, to look for themes and patterns so that greater understanding might emerge. Hopefully, we can start to see some new and interesting things as I look at the Royals one week at a time.
A week in the books, and for me, it was a week of great excitement and great frustration. Excitement because meaningful baseball is back. Frustration because I’m a Royals fan. This week saw many anticipated and interesting moments. Here are links to a few:
- James Shields’s first start was good but spoiled by Chris Sale.
- Luis Mendoza was stellar in his first start, but Greg Holland blew it.
- The Royals offense exploded in game one of the Philadelphia series after Wade Davis struggled in his Royals debut.
Of course, if you don’t know these things, why do you read this blog? Anyway, I’d like to look at a few patterns or themes that piqued my interest in week 1:
Strikeouts good, walks bad
Just before the season started, I wrote a post about how strikeout to walk ratio would be a very important stat to keep your eyes on this season. This is a fairly obvious statement, but apparently the Royals broadcast teams picked up on it too because they keep harping on how many strikeouts and how few walks the team has. It’s true, of course; the Royals have done very well so far with their strikeout and walk numbers. In 42.2 IP, they have 49 SO and only 12 BB. They can’t keep that rate up, but if they can stay somewhere in the area of 2.5-3 strikeouts to walks, they should be in good shape.
All we need is some patience. Yeah, yeah.
Those who got a chance to watch and listen to the games, probably noticed that the fifth inning has been magical for the Royals so far. In their 13-4 win over the Phillies on Friday, the scoring got started for the Royals in the 5th. It happened again today. If you look closely at those two games (either just watching them or digging into the stats), you’ll notice that their upturn in offense corresponded with increased patience at the plate. On Friday from the 5th inning on, the Royals saw many more pitcher per plate appearance. It’s not coincidence that three of their four walks happened after the 5th either. So, in their two high scoring victories, the Royals have 11 BB. In their three low scoring losses the Royals have 5 BB. Walks aren’t everything, but good plate discipline is important.
Frenchy and Getz gets hot!
(See what I did there?) It’s hard to argue with results. Right now, Jeff Francoeur and Chris Getz are playing well, and I know all of those who have rightly criticized both in the past, including me, are happy to see it. Francoeur is reliving his 2011 by swinging at everything that leaves the pitchers hand but actually putting it in play hard sometimes. Getz is out of his mind right now, hitting the ball hard and for extra bases sometimes. He still hasn’t walked yet, which means has on-base is still pretty low, but beggars can’t be choosers right. Let’s just hope that they continue this level of play throughout because I find it hard to believe that Yost won’t look at these last six games as proof that both are legitimate starters.
This bullpen is scary
In two ways. 1) They’re scary good, like how they dominated in the first four games of the season. 2) They’ve been scary bad the last two games. Really, Greg Holland has been scary bad and J.C. Gutierrez had a bad day. Losing game two of the Phillies series was rough. Holland was so bad, and it felt like the Royals had that game in the bag. We have so much faith in the bullpen it’s especially crushing when they don’t come through. It’s also tough because we as fans know that our margin for error it not big. We can’t give away wins like that. I think Ned Yost knows it too. He didn’t exactly blindly support Holland in post-game comments, and he was quick to pull him today for Kelvin Herrera. I wouldn’t be surprised if a switch is made sometime in the next couple of weeks, especially if Holland continues to struggle. It’ll be interesting to see how that situation shakes out.
Those are the things I found most interesting this week. I almost mentioned Billy Butler’s early struggles; then, he went out and cranked in 7 RBI today. So, I think he’ll be ok.