Rewind Yourself: 5/16-5/22 – Musical Chairs


The Royals got a test with Cleveland, Texas and St. Louis coming to town – all three in first place in their respective divisions.

A good run at home and the Royals could gain some confidence and, more importantly, some standing in the AL Central.  Instead, most of the week was consumed with chaos, and the Royals came away with just two wins – though it was close in a couple of instances.

Right away, the Royals lost 19-1 against Cleveland in a game that saw both Kyle Davies leave with a shoulder injury after four batters and Vin Mazzaro get shelled in relief.  Needless to say, things needed to change.

Baserunning was an issue as well.  The Royals got picked off repeatedly, thrown out taking the extra base a few times, and were caught stealing multiple times.

When the dust settled, Davies was on the DL, Mazzaro was sent to Omaha.  Jeremy Jeffress and Jarrod Dyson joined him later in the week after Jeffress struggled with control and Dyson was picked off as a pinch runner (without any production at the plate to redeem himself).  Coming up to replace them were Danny Duffy, who made his major league debut, Greg Holland, Everett Teaford and Robinson Tejeda, who was activated from the DL.

That’s a lot of turnover in seven days.

The Numbers
Slash line: .267/.317/.371/.688
21 runs in 7 games (3.0/game)
4 Home runs
3 stolen bases in 9 attempts
19 walks in 265 plate appearances (7.2%)

After starting the series against the Yankees tied for the lead in the AL in runs scored, the Royals are third in those rankings, but other teams are gaining fast. It seems nearly everyone is hitting a rough patch at the same time and when they did get on base, they’d give away outs.

Pitching staff ERA: 5.78 over 67 innings
Starters ERA: 4.63
Bullpen ERA: 7.03

If you omit Vin Mazzaro’s 2.2 inning 14 ER performance from Monday, it looks a lot better:
Staff: 4.04
Bullpen: 3.34

38/46 K/BB ratio (0.83 – yuck)

As you can tell, taking out Mazzaro’s game really makes things look better. Luke Hochevar was excellent start on Thursday and Jeff Francis followed it up with a strong outing of his own.

As a whole, though, the staff was wild and had trouble throwing strikes. Danny Duffy, in his debut, still walked 6 and it drove his pitch count up. Twice, the Royals surrendered 13 walks in a game. That’s just not acceptable and they still almost snuck away with two more wins than they got.

Eric Hosmer, 10-30, 1st homer at Kauffman Stadium
Alcides Escobar, 7-22 – finally hitting a little bit while also performing acts of daring-do in the field on a nightly basis
Wilson Betemit, 7-23 – HR, 3 RBI, 4 RS

Billy Butler, 5-25 – but he walked three times and is hitting the ball hard
Jeff Francoeur, 5-25 – homered on Sunday and drilled two to the warning track as well
Mike Aviles, 4-21

The Verdict
Taking away Monday’s drubbing and things look a lot better. Francis, Hochevar and Nate Adcock had solid starts and even in four innings, Duffy looked like his stuff will work right away as long as he can settle down.

The hot starts from Francoeur, Alex Gordon and Melky Cabrera have started to tail off, though Gordon’s been moved into the leadoff spot and walked four times this week. He seemed to take more pitches than in past weeks, as well.

The Royals hit the road for a three game series in Baltimore and then return to the jet streams of Arlington for another three games against the Rangers. The pitching staff has reloaded with a lot of bullpen arms after some heavy work in the past couple weeks and with injuries pulling Adcock into the rotation. Someone may end up getting sent back to the minors to make room for another bench player, as the Royals are messing with the dreaded eight-man bullpen (which I hate, but for this short-term period, I understand).

This next road trip could be important for many reasons. If the Royals run into the same issues they did in the last week of April (when Cleveland and Texas hammered them) or in the last road trip (where they only really got guys on base in the Thursday game in New York), it could shatter any faint dream of true contention this year. If they win both series or even break even, they’ll return to Kansas City with two games at the end of May.

And then June comes. June should be very interesting…

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