Last year the Royals got off to a great start going 14-10 in April, and finishing the month half a game behind Detroit for the AL Central lead. It didn’t matter as they collapsed in May and then spent the rest year digging out of a hole. This year a fast start is going to be necessary, but I pointed out last year to highlight that it is not a fast start for fast start’s sake that matters. The baseball season is long, so getting off to a fast start is not as beneficial as it might be in other sports, but this year’s schedule in April means the Royals need to rattle off some wins.
There are two reasons why April could be huge for this team. The first has to do with the AL Central race itself. Seven of the Royals match-ups (I am including March 31st in April) with Cleveland and Detroit come in the first month of the season. Three with Detroit to kick the season off, and four with Cleveland the 21st through 24th. The only month with more Detroit and Cleveland games will be July when the Royals play these two teams 11 times.
If the Royals want to win the Central it is going to be these two teams that they are likely competing with. That means starting off on the right foot, and seven games can get things moving in the right direction if you win four or more of them. Struggling early here won’t kill the Royals, but it could hurt.
The second reason April matters is this:
3 games in KC against the White Sox
6 games, 3 home/3 way, against the Twins
3 games at Houston
That is 12 out of the first 27 against the dregs of the AL. There are zero bad teams in the AL East this year. The West, other than Houston, is solid across the board unless the pitching injuries drag the A’s down. Almost half of April’s games for KC are against the three worst teams. If they don’t fatten up in these games, it will get more difficult to make those games up later. This fact alone makes April the easiest on the Royals schedule for this season, and they need to take advantage of it.
What I am looking for is 16 wins going into may, 4 against Cle/Det, 8 out of 12 against the dregs, and split the other eight games against Toronto, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore. That would be a great start to the season and the schedule sets up well to allow it.