The KC Royals 2016 could be determined in the next two weeks. The Kansas City Royals face two more games in Detroit, a key three game series against AL Central leader Cleveland, six games against AL West leader Texas, and three games against the Angels.
The reason this stretch is so important is the KC Royals need to make up ground against their AL Central rivals in Detroit and Cleveland, while preventing a 54-37 Rangers team from damaging their record. If the Kansas City Royals play poorly over these last 14 games before the non-waiver trade deadline, general manager Dayton Moore could give up on the idea of adding help and instead sell-off short-term assets.
The KC Royals have suffered through a rough 3-8 start in July. Had the Kansas City Royals had instead reversed that record, they’d be right in the thick of the AL Central race only 3.0 games behind Cleveland and in position for an AL Wild Card. Instead, the KC Royals trail the Houston Astros by 3.5 games for the second AL Wild Card, and the Toronto Blue Jays by 4.5 games for the top wild card position.
Overall, the Kansas City Royals rank fourth among wild card contenders, behind Toronto (51-41), Houston (49-41), and Detroit (47-43).
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The KC Royals need to get their season turned around in one big hurry.
Fortunately for Kansas City, their big three game series against Cleveland comes at Kauffman Stadium. The KC Royals are an outstanding 29-13 at home this season, and have five more home games (39) than road games (34) remaining in 2016. The Kansas City Royals need to figure out some way to improve their horrendous 16-31 record away from Kauffman Stadium if they are to have any hope of mounting a second-half run.
Fortunately, the KC Royals appear to be getting healthy with Wade Davis returning from the disabled list on Saturday, and Lorenzo Cain‘s hamstring at 85%. His return should also come within the next few days. With Cain’s return, the Kansas City Royals roster should be at full strength for most of the next two weeks.
Now, KC Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland needs to figure out how to help his pitching staff surrender fewer home runs on the road. The Kansas City Royals staff has given up more road gopher balls than any team in the American League with 71, which is also the second most in major-league baseball behind the batting practice staff in Cincinnati (76).
The home run ball again plagued the KC Royals on Friday, when they gave up two solo shots in their 4-2 loss to Detroit that kicked off the season’s second half. The second dinger was particularly damaging, which allowed Detroit to nullify a 2-1 seventh inning Kansas City lead when .100 hitter Tyler Collins parked a Luke Hochevar pitch over the right-center wall at Comerica Park.
Hochevar seemed to lose his focus after that shot, allowing two consecutive base hits in a row. Those hits helped set up Victor Martinez‘s fluke infield single that ended up driving in both game-winning runs. While Joakim Soria‘s fielding muff and a lucky bounce helped one of the slowest base-runners in the game to beat out an infield hit, it was Collins’ home run that put Hochevar off his game.
Perhaps KC Royals pitchers need to pitch lower in the zone more, or make sure to pitch out of the strike zone with favorable counts rather than challenging hitters. If Eiland and his pitching staff doesn’t figure it out soon, the homer-prone pitching staff will end up killing KC’s playoff hopes.