“But the Rays are awful and the Orioles traditionally have terrible pitching and didn’t even have Zach Britton,” I can hear you howling. “This seven-game stretch isn’t indicative of anything!”
Au contraire. The Rays rank in MLB’s top-10 in ERA (3.65), FIP (3.95), average (.236) and ERA+ (108) and have Chris Archer. That’s a good staff the KC Royals smacked around.
Baltimore is bad at some things (WHIP and K/BB being two glaring examples), but are right around league-average in most things and improving now that Chris Tillman’s back. They lead the league in runners stranded and forced the KC Royals to scrap for every run. Those games had a live-and-die, fight-for-every-baserunner feel. A playoff feel.
Esky at the Bat
As a good luck charm, sure, I’ll bite on Alcides Escobar batting leadoff. Pedro Cerrano had Jobu, some rum and hats for bats. We’ve got Esky.
But accepting that a 30-year old who has declined offensively by practically every available metric the last four seasons’—and who is hitting .192 with a .221 on-base percentage this year—is frightening. There are two things I won’t do: I won’t drive blindfolded and I won’t buy a leadoff hitter as a lucky rabbit’s foot. Get back to the drawing board.
Bullpen Coming Around?
A friend texted me during Mike Minor’s outing the other day just to say, “I never thought we’d see Mike Minor do this again.”
Me neither. Now he’s enjoying a charmed second life as a long reliever and could be looming (fingers crossed) as a potential multi-inning relief ace ala Andrew Miller. After watching his career crater in Atlanta, this is akin to watching Lazarus climb out of his grave and start talking to people again.
It’s not just Minor. Matt Strahm has been excellent since his return, Kelvin Herrera’s audition for the Nats closing abilities have been on point and aside from one blowup against the Twins, Joakim Soria has turned back the clock.
And outside of those four, I never want to see another person come out of the KC Royals bullpen in a game that’s closer than five runs, either direction.
There is hope for optimism as we move forward… cautious optimism. Hosmer has to keep hitting. Gordon has to come around. Although the pitching can’t be this good forever (or can it?), it can’t crater either. But fortunately, things look quite a bit brighter for the KC Royals than they did at the beginning of the month.