The trip out west rolls on for the KC Royals, who start a two-game series against San Francisco tonight. If you’re disappointed in how the Royals have fared so far, be glad you’re not a Giants fan; the intervening years since the 2014 World Series have not been kind to the Boys by the Bay.
In troubled times—like when trying to talk yourself into whether or not the KC Royals should remain invested in the current core because the rest of the AL Central is so cruddy, for instance—it helps to know a rival is carrying the same baggage you are. To look at a like foe and think, “Hey, things are bad but at least they’re not THAT bad,” can be comforting.
In a related story, the KC Royals play the Giants this week.
The San Francisco Giants, for reasons both practical (Madison Bumgarner being a god among men) and impractical (#EvenYearMagic) have been a staple at or near the top of the NL West for most of this decade—they’ve finished lower than second just once, a third-place finish in 2013.
They’re currently fourth.
The Giants haven’t had the KC Royals issue where the core got auctioned off bit at a time, gambling that 90 percent of the production could be achieved at 50 percent of the cost. With the exception of Angel Pagan, the core of last season’s Wild Card-winning lineup remains in place and the pitching staff upgraded from Santiago Casilla to Mark Melancon in the closer’s role.
Ah, but without Bumgarner things have fallen apart. Since a dirt-biking incident landed him on the DL in mid-April, the Giants have gone from shuffling along near .500 to cratering, already sitting 15 games out of the NL West lead. A fifth consecutive series loss would be the straw that broke the camel’s back, if that ship hasn’t already sailed.
Anyway, here’s Wonderwall.
Few surprises have been more delightful this season than that of “Jason Vargas, Ace” becoming a legitimate thing. He’s second in the AL in bWAR (3.3), ERA (2.18), wins (eight) and adjusted ERA+ (204), behind some dude named Keuchel. A win Tuesday would tie him for the the MLB lead; with Dallas Keuchel on the shelf, it would give Vargy pole position to become the first 10-game winner in the league this season.
(I know wins don’t matter, just like RBI and home runs are antiquated stats and FIP is a better measure of a pitcher’s success than ERA. Last time I looked, the teams that win the most games get to play in October… something Mike Trout, the WAR Machine, has never done.)
Watch If: You’re excited to see what Vargas at the bat looks like. He has exactly two AB’s to his credit as a Royal, both coming in the 2014 World Series.
To say anything against Johnny Cueto, the 2015 trade deadline acquisition who helped bring a title to Kansas City for the first time in 30 years, is blasphemous. I will not hear it; he meant more in 17 starts than some guys who spend years patrolling the turf at Kauffman.
Having said all that, I hope he falls into an open sewer Wednesday morning.
Watch If: You’re excited to see Eric Hosmer or another former teammate of Cueto’s take him deep into the bay.
Predictions Sure to be Wrong
In Game One: An excited Alex Gordon is benched after being two hours late to the park. Gordon later admits he lost track of time visiting Facebook headquarters.
Game Two: With the wind blowing out, Jorge Bonifacio rents a kayak and patrols the bay instead of right field.