As of right now, the Royals hold a one game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. Most may not expect that to last, but that’s the fact as of right now.
It’s never too soon to watch the scoreboard though, and every week, we’re going to try to keep up with the AL Central across the FanSided Network by going right to the guys who know the most about each team. In this week’s installment, we’ll collectively wrap up the first week-plus of the season. For the Royals, that included two matchups with division opponents, the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins.
A lot of things have gone right in the early going. The starting pitching has been solid, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler have been very good, and even Jeff Francoeur hit a ball out on Wednesday. The end result is a 6-3 record through Thursday’s off day.
But how about the competition?
The Detroit Tigers‘ bullpen has been awful early on this season; through nine games (26.2 innings) they’ve accumulated a 6.41 ERA (second worst ERA in baseball). A lot has been made of the Tigers’ troublesome closer situation (mostly being that they don’t have one), but the current relief issues aren’t necessarily directly tied to that — they’ve had trouble even getting the ball to the ninth inning in a save situation. They’ll continue to have trouble in the middle and late innings unless they can get their starters to go deeper into games.
The White Sox started off the season looking decent, albeit against teams without proven track records, and watched it catch up to them once they faced a reigning division champ in the Nationals. Their inability to hit with runners in scoring position has left them relying on solo home runs to carry the scoring load, which needless to say isn’t always enough. The pitching staff has been faring well despite the spotty run support even with John Danks beginning the season on the DL. The Sox will enter the next week with two infielders that were recently thought of as utility players manning full time positions in Conor Gillaspie and Jeff Keppinger due to an injury to starting second baseman Gordon Beckham.
The Twins sit at 4-5 after a week and a half of play, taking series from the Tigers and Orioles to begin the season before being swept by the Royals in three games. Aaron Hicks has struggled mightily after coming up from AA to begin the season as the Twins starting CF following the off-season trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere. He has two hits in 35 at bats, has struck out 16 times, and has walked just twice. The Twins boast one of the top minor league systems in all of baseball, however, and prospects have been raking.
The Indians had a great first couple games of the season, beating the revamped Blue Jays 4-1 and 3-2 in a pair of good, close games. Then came trouble: they lost five of their six subsequent games to the Blue Jays, Rays, and Yankees before a pair of storms washed out the second half of the home opening series. In each of those losses the Indians gave up 10 or more runs and/or scored one or fewer runs, but on the plus side the one win was a 13-0 rout of reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price and the Rays. So while it’s way too soon to panic, it hasn’t exactly been a fun week in Cleveland.
It’s been a pretty fun week in Kansas City though, despite crummy weather (other than the home opener). By this time next week, will that fun feeling stand?