KC Royals Losing Streak Caused By More than Bad Pitching


Losing streaks are inevitable in Major League Baseball. Over the course of 6 months and 162 games, every team will experience dry-spells, rough stretches and other forms of adversity. For the Kansas City Royals, 2015 has been chock-full of adversity, with suspensions and injuries galore. Yet somehow, they have managed to stay on top. Almost two full months into the season, the Royals boasted the best record in all of baseball and had yet to lose more than two games in a row. They seemed unstoppable…until this week. Glorious as it was, the early success and onslaught of wins made the Royals’ sudden, violent fall back to earth all the more jarring.

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Technically, the losing streak began back on May 24, with a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Having won the previous two games, though, and taken the series, it was really the Memorial Day massacre versus the New York Yankees that made it clear: the Royals aren’t invincible.

No one has ever claimed the Royals to be a perfect team, their foibles and vulnerabilities have been well documented. What’s made them so good, and so successful, however, has been their ability to offset their shortcomings by dominating in other areas of play. To put it plainly, they have gotten by with a shaky, unreliable starting rotation by having one of the best, most productive offenses in all of Major League Baseball. For a team that got to the World Series solely based on “speed, pitching and defense,” no one saw that coming. As it happens, this new-found offensive prowess has been their saving grace. With the rotation struggling as it has been, the offense is what has truly kept the Royals afloat. Without it, there is no way they would be leading in the AL Central. Need proof? Consider their past four games.

Since May 24, the Royals’ offense has gone from being dominant to virtually nonexistent. While it likely wouldn’t have made much of a difference on Memorial Day, when Jeremy Guthrie gave up 11 runs in less than two innings, the fact that they’ve only managed to score 5 runs over 36 innings is troubling. In that same span, they’ve given up 29 runs. That’s downright alarming, especially when you consider who the opponents were. Losing 1 game to the Cardinals is not cause for concern–the Cardinals are a good team, and they had a very good pitcher on the mound that day. The Yankees, however, are not. The Yankees are a very mediocre team, comprised mostly of guys who are well past their prime. Entering the Memorial Day game versus the Royals, they had one of the league’s worst offenses. As Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star, put it:

"“The [Yankees] limped into Monday with 10 defeats in 11 games. Their descent from first place in the American League East was swift. Their bats stayed quiet during a weekend sweep by the Texas Rangers.”"

Jeremy Guthrie’s performance out in Yankee Stadium speaks for itself. An unmitigated disaster. What I found more vexing, though, was the Royals inability to score more than a single run against Nathan Eovaldi–a young pitcher many people had never heard of, who entered the day with an ERA just under 5! I mean, Michael Wacha is one thing, but Nathan Eovaldi? Adam Warren??

In the long run, a 4-game losing streak is hardly detrimental. The Royals have known their starting pitching is an issue since the second week of the season. It must, and likely will improve. The offense, though, must return in a hurry. If it doesn’t, at least to some extent, then this could be the first of many “losing streaks” for the Boys in Blue.

Next: Allard Baird almost delivered the impossible in 2003