The KC Royals were rumored to be offering closer Wade Davis and starter Ian Kennedy to the Los Angeles Dodgers just before the trade deadline. The Kansas City Royals need to thank the Baseball Gods that Davis’ forearm injury killed any chance of such a deal.
Rumors swirled that the KC Royals were packaging Wade Davis and Ian Kennedy in trade talks before the August 1 non-waiver deadline. The Los Angeles Dodgers appeared to be the most natural fit for such a deal. The Royals were wallowing their way to a 7-19 July and seemingly out of the race. Most pundits would have congratulated KC general manager Dayton Moore for his realistic decision-making.
Presuming that Moore landed some top prospects to restock the Kansas City system, fans and analysts around baseball alike would have showered him with praise.
And it would have been a disaster.
As most baseball fans know, the KC Royals have won 18 of their last 21 games to put themselves squarely back into the American League playoff picture. They now trail the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central by 5.5 games and the Detroit Tigers by 1 game. Kansas City also has closed to 3.0 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the AL’s second wild card.
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After estimating the Kansas City Royals playoff odds at 0.1% on August 6, Fangraphs.com now sees an 8.7% chance that KC makes the 2016 post-season (as of Monday, August 29). Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Royals a much more robust 24% chance to make the playoffs.
The strangest part of all is that trading Wade Davis wouldn’t have been a problem. Davis went on the disabled list in July 31. The bullpen responded by reeling off a 41.2 inning scoreless streak in his absence. They’ve reclaimed their position atop major league baseball with a 3.08 ERA. That surge follows an awful July in which opponents rocked the KC pen for a 5.96 ERA.
The problem would have been trading Ian Kennedy.
Ian Kennedy’s Hot August
Scuffling with a 4.23 ERA on July 31, Kennedy has absolutely dominated in five starts in August with a 1.11 ERA. Home runs plagued him in the first four months of the season; he gave up 26 dingers before August 1. That number has dwindled to two in his last 32.1 innings pitched. Along with Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura, Kennedy has helped give the KC Royals a trio of strong starters in August.
Those three have spearheaded a rotation resurgence in which KC starters have allowed only a 3.08 ERA in August. That’s the second best mark in MLB behind the ridiculous 2.02 ERA put up by the Cubs. Without Kennedy, I doubt Kansas City’s August Rally happens.
The funny thing is, if Wade Davis didn’t injure his forearm and Dayton Moore pulled the trigger on the trade, no one would have known what he passed up. Everyone would have presumed the KC Royals’ season was lost. Fans would have considered any lack of a playoff run simply the expected outcome.