KC Royals Midweek Musings: Pre-Opening Day observations

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Today’s KC Royals Midweek Musings touches on Opening Day, exhibition games, some roster updates, former Royals here and abroad and other observations.

Some KC Royals Midweek Musings two days before baseball starts for real again:

Opening Day thoughts.  Baseball returns tomorrow night  with two games featuring stellar pitching match-ups: the Yankees and Gerrit Cole face the Nationals and Max Scherzer in Washington, then the Dodgers and Giants play in Los Angeles with former Royal Johnny Cueto facing off against LA’s Clayton Kershaw

The KC Royals begin play Friday with a 6:10 game in Cleveland. Danny Duffy will be on the mound for Kansas City and Shane Bieber gets the starting nod for the Indians; I wrote about the matchup a few days ago.

Opening Day. It’s been a long wait, but it’s finally just a couple days away.

The exhibition games.  If the first of the Royals’ three exhibition games are any indication, pitching may be the team’s biggest weakness this season. Starter Mike Montgomery had a shaky first inning in Monday’s 6-3 loss to Houston, then surrendered a pair of two-run home runs in the fourth. The staff then struggled in a 15-6 defeat at the Astros’ hands Tuesday.

Tyler Zuber and Trevor Rosenthal, however, both pitched scoreless innings Monday to continue their impressive spring and summer camps.

Bobby Witt Jr. went 2-for-4 in the pair of contests, but still seems destined for KC’s alternate camp. Salvador Perez and Bubba Starling both homered.

Kansas City wraps up its brief exhibition schedule today with a 3:05 p.m. game at St. Louis. Thursday is an off day before the Royals open in Cleveland.

Roster updates.  Teams have until 11 a.m. Central Time tomorrow to finalize their Opening Day rosters. Like most teams, the KC Royals haven’t identified the 30 players who’ll make the cut for the first two weeks of the season; they’ll have to cut again to 28 players in two weeks, then to 26 two weeks after that.

At this writing, Jakob Junis is on the Injured List and won’t be on the initial roster; a late arrival to Summer Camp after testing positive for COVID-19, the club put him on the IL Monday to give him time to build up for regular duty. He joined fellow starting pitcher Brad Keller, who also tested positive for the virus, on the list. Keller has returned to the team but hasn’t been activated.

First baseman Ryan O’Hearn and catcher Cam Gallagher also tested positive and are on the IL.

Meibrys Viloria was still on the 10-day list as of Tuesday evening but played in the day’s exhibition game against Houston.

Kelvin Gutierrez, who had a good shot at making the club in a reserve role, went on the 60-day IL July 16 with an elbow strain.

Jake Newberry’s quest to make the Opening Day 30 ended Tuesday when he was optioned to the club’s alternate camp.

And the Royals get to keep Rule 5 draftee Stephen Woods Jr. despite their decision not to keep him on the active roster for the entire season. He cleared waivers, and the Royals avoided losing him under Rule 5 rules by trading cash or a player to be named to Tampa Bay. Kansas City outrighted him off of the 40-man roster, but he’ll obviously remain in the organization.

Former Royals make 30-man rosters.  Besides former KC Royals who were absolute locks for their teams’ 30-man rosters (think Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain, for example), some other familiar players have already learned they made the cut.

Pitcher Edinson Volquez will begin the season with Texas and pitcher Justin Grimm will join Cain with Milwaukee.

Overseas update.  What a difference a few days days can make–just a week ago, former KC shortstop Alcides Escobar was struggling with a .232 batting average for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, but he’s been hot enough to raise his average to .321 through Tuesday’s contests. Tokyo teammate and former Kansas City teammate Nori Aoki is close behind Esky with a .318 average and has five home runs.

Former KC hurler Aaron Brooks’ good season continues with the Korean Baseball Organization’s Kia Tigers–he’s 5-3 with a 2.49 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.

Simulation update.  Although the actual 2020 season is about to start, Baseball-Reference’s simulated campaign continues. Through Tuesday’s games, the simulated KC Royals were 28 games under .500 at 37-65 and are far behind American League Central Division leading Cleveland (29.5 games), but 1.5 games ahead of last place Detroit.

Kansas City scored on an error in the bottom of the ninth to break a 3-3 tie and escape with a 4-3 home victory over Tampa Bay Tuesday.

Jorge Lopez is 7-3 with a 3.57 ERA to lead the pitching staff. Ryan O’Hearn has a team-best 16 home runs and Whit Merrifield’s .319 average is tops on the club.

The Dodgers hold an astonishing 22.5 game lead in the NL West, while the Yankees, Oakland, Cleveland, Washington and St. Louis are ahead in the other divisions.

The simulation utilizes Out of the Park Baseball 21 and is updated around noon every day.

Next. KC's Jake Brentz is a work in progress. dark

That’s all for this week. We’ll be back next week with more KC Royals Midweek Musings. Until then, stay safe and healthy.