Imagine you knew the following about the month of April, prior to the start of the season.
Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer would be homer-less. Mike Moustakas would be every bit as bad as last season. Lorenzo Cain would be back on the DL. The bullpen construction would be a work in progress, performing well beneath last season’s success. You probably wouldn’t have expect to hear that on May 2nd, the Royals were 14-13, 2 out of first, and only 1/2 game out of the AL Wild Card.
It is now May and the Royals have posted a winning effort despite under performing in critical areas. Makes one wonder if last year’s successes and Ned Yost‘s tireless support for his players does result in more wins than stat heads could ever compute. Perhaps it just shows what strong starting pitching means to a team in a mediocre division. We have seen what the team does sans strong starting pitching. Last night was a good example. Bottom line, they just won another series, and from a solid Blue Jays squad.
It’s not overly optimistic to expect three of the rotation spots to perform at nearly all-star levels. Hosmer and Butler are hitting the ball harder, and Omar Infante looks like a wonderful free agent signing. They can’t get away with the lack of hitting they displayed in April, but there is every reason to think it will improve. It better, especially when Jeremy Guthrie and Bruce Chen take the bump. It’s starting to feel like roulette when they start. They both seem to have pretty much the same stuff each start. Each start’s results seem to have as much to do with luck and uncontrolled variables as pitch command and bite.
The team’s play this month may very well decide their post season fate. Everyone is just waiting for Detroit to beef up after the trade deadline, so the time is now to put them a few games back. These Tigers have a few runs in them and the streaky Royals will be much better served being ahead of them when their run occurs. Taking the upcoming series against those Tigers would be a fine first step.
After the Tigers roar into town, the Royals have some very beatable foes. The hit the west coast for a 3 game series against the Padres, followed by four in Seattle. A winning road trip is very forseeable. Then they have a 9 game home stand, hosting the Rockies, Orioles, and the White-Sox. Again, three series that Vegas will have KC taking. A hard series against the Angels follows, with an Astros home stand right after. The head north of the border for 3 with the Blue Jays, closing out the month.
The Tigers have some lay ups in May, playing the Astros, Twins and Mariners. They will have their hands full with Baltimore and Cleveland. Detroit also plays the likes of Boston, Texas, and Oakland. That’s a tough month.
The schedule, on paper, looks much harder for KC in June. They have to take advantage in May, and they are well positioned to do it. Once the line up starts driving the ball better, and Cain returns , they will score more runs. Once Chen’s butt feels better and Collins returns, the bullpen deepens. Shields, Ventura, and Vargas look very solid, very consistent.
Here’s to hoping we look back at May as the months the Royals won the AL Central. Things be getting real vs Detroit tonight. Happy Friday!