The Kansas City Royals are virtually eliminated from the playoff race. But don’t expect manager Ned Yost to make many lineup changes over the final week. Here’s why that’s the right decision.
It’s been pretty apparent the Kansas City Royals weren’t going to make the postseason for some time now. However, the team has done just enough—and gotten just enough help elsewhere—to remain mathematically in the hunt.
The hope that some fans have been clinging to will completely evaporate with either the next Royals loss or Twins win. The next one of those outcomes will officially eliminate the Kansas City Royals from contention.
But don’t expect that to change much.
Even when the Royals’ inevitable elimination comes, manager Ned Yost won’t suddenly change the lineup. Many people have been saying for weeks that Yost might as well start regularly flooding the lineup with players such as Raul Mondesi, Jorge Soler and Jorge Bonifacio.
Yost’s decision to keep running out the regular starters—several of whom will become free agents at the end of the season—has been justified by the Wild Card standings. But now that the pipe dream of a third playoff appearance in four seasons has been essentially dashed, that excuse doesn’t carry any weight.
There was some rotation in the outfield for Monday’s game in New York with Paulo Orlando and Bonifacio starting alongside Melky Cabrera. The infield, though, proved to be the standard one. So a player here and there might be rested/rotated, but wholesale changes are not likely to take place.
Maybe if the schedule had been reversed, Yost would give the young guys more playing time in Detroit and Arizona. But with six home games to close out the year, expect little deviation from the standard lineup moving forward.
And that’s not a bad thing.
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At this point, the benefit of giving the young guys a few games in the majors is minimal. On the other side, this homestand will be the final time many prominent Kansas City Royals play in front of their hometown fans. That is until they return in different uniforms.
With that in mind, Yost should be commended if he keeps Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain in the lineup each of the remaining games. Alcides Escobar will likely stay in the lineup to keep his consecutive start streak intact, even though it could be argued Mondesi deserves some reps.
Jason Vargas will start on Tuesday. Depending on whether the team continues to employ a six-man rotation, it could be his final start for the Kansas City Royals. If not, he’d slot in to start the season finale on Sunday.
Expect that Sunday game against Arizona—if not every game this weekend—to be a sellout. And expect the Kansas City Royals to trot out a typical lineup one last time.
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That’s the way it should be.