Next: 2. Starting Pitching
Kansas City Royals starting pitchers spent the first four months of 2016 stinking up major-league baseball. In the first half, opponents lit up Kansas City starters for a 4.99 ERA (25th in MLB). The Royals starting pitchers also gave up 87 home runs, which trailed only the CIncinnati Reds who gave up 88.
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Pretty much any way you cut it, the KC Royals staring pitchers were awful.
But, flip the calendar forward to August, and the Kansas City rotation starts taking over games. They rank second in major league baseball with a 3.02 ERA in August, trailing only the Cubs at 2.27. Consider, also, that the Royals play in the American League where they face designated hitters instead of pitchers. By the way, those numbers are after the Red Sox hung seven runs on KC Royals ace Danny Duffy on Saturday, and four runs on in 4.1 innings on Yordano Ventura on Sunday.
Even with the seven run debacle, Danny Duffy sports a cool 2.51 ERA in August and a 2.90 ERA in the second half. Yordano Ventura numbers are 2.93 ERA for the second half and 2.03 for August. Ian Kenendy checks in at 2.83 and an outrageous 1.11 ERA this last month. Even no. 5 starter Dillon Gee joined the party with a 3.69 ERA in August.
Edinson Volquez has been the exception, with a 4.96 ERA in the second half and getting lit up for a disappointing 5.81 ERA over the last month.
Even so, four rolling starters has been enough to fuel a long winning streak in which the KC Royals have won 18 of their last 22. While there’s no guarantee that the strong starting pitching will continue, a number of things indicate that it’s not just a hot streak. For one, the Kansas City Royals starters are giving up a lot less home runs. To me that suggests that the Royals have adjusted to the homer-happy scoring environment in 2016 after getting beat over the head the first half of the season.
In August, those dingers have declined to 20. That’s the ninth-best total for starting staffs in major-league baseball, which is a big improvement from second worst.
Next: Reason No. 1