Why the Royals Could Still Make the Playoffs
By David Hill
Thursday went about as badly as it could have for the Kansas City Royals. First, they were unable to make any moves at the trade deadline to bolster their team. Then, David Price was traded to the Detroit Tigers, meaning that the Tigers have not only the defending American League ERA leader, but the last three Cy Young award winners. Then, to add insult to injury, Eric Hosmer was placed on the disabled list with a fractured hand. Seemingly everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
Yet, despite all of those issues, the Royals still find themselves only four games out in the Central, and 3.5 games back in the Wild Card with two months to go. They still find themselves right in the thick of the playoff hunt. As it turns out, if the Royals do their part, they may well still have a chance at the playoffs.
Of the Royals remaining 54 games, only 19 of them involve a team that is presently over .500, including six games against the aforementioned Tigers. They still have, after last night, six games left with Oakland, unlike Detroit. However, the Tigers still have to face the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners. Their schedule involves 26 games left against teams that are over .500.
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And what of the teams ahead of the Royals in the Wild Card hunt? The Toronto Blue Jays, who the Royals trail in the Wild Card, have 25 games left against teams that are over .500. The Yankees and Mariners, who are tied with the Royals entering last night’s action, still have 28 games and 27 games against teams that are over .500, respectively. As these teams also square off against one another, and the Tigers, several times, they could conceivably keep each other from being able to pull away.
Should that happen, the Royals, with their weaker schedule, could capitalize. Of course, the Royals need several other things to go their way. They need James Shields to be the pitcher he was over the first month and a half of the year. They need Mike Moustakas to continue to be the home run hitting threat he has been since his return from Omaha. They need Billy Butler to suddenly morph back into the Billy Butler of the previous five seasons, and not someone that is seemingly contractually obligated to ground to short every other at bat.
All of those scenarios are certainly possible. If they do play out, and the Royals find their way into the playoffs, then the disappointment of Thursday will be nothing more than an unpleasant memory. And you know what? The Royals could well find themselves playing October baseball, even after what happened the other day.