Last 3 weeks show KC Royals can compete in 2021
By Shawn Bauman
After another tough start to the season, the KC Royals go out winning 12 of 18 games and giving young talent the opportunity to shine.
We all knew this year would most likely be another dismal one but the shortened season did bring a glimmer of hope that flaws could be masked enough to compete. However, The KC Royals endured losing streaks at the beginning and two-thirds point of the season that were too much to overcome.
Due to the bounce back at the end of the year, the team actually only fell three games short of a Wild Card bid as the Houston Astros snuck into the playoffs with a 29-31 record. The late-season surge was reflective of the teams they played, with only six of those contests against teams with a winning record. But they did go 5-1 against Cleveland and St. Louis who both qualified for the playoffs.
Beating the teams you should and competing against the strong teams are not something Royals fans are used to the last few years. Many players came up strong at the end of the year giving us the hope that next year could see the team in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Salvador Perez and Adalberto Mondesi were nuclear hot in September, Whit Merrifield was – well he was Whit -, Maikel Franco turned out to be a nice surprise at the plate, and the play of Edward Oliveras and Franchy Cordero, both outfielders, gives hope for 2021.
The pitching was suspect for much of the year save for the bullpen which featured great performances by Greg Holland, Josh Staumont, Kyle Zimmer, Jesse Hahn, and a respectable rookie debut by Tyler Zuber (I believe his ceiling is still very high).
The big stories from the mound though were that the KC Royals allowed Brady Singer and Kris Bubic to cut their teeth on major league batters and it looks like they will be dominating pitchers. Pair them with Brad Keller who had an amazing year and the addition of other high draft picks who could debut next season and the rotation could be one of the best in the American League.
There are many decisions and evaluations to be made before next spring rolls around but the future does look bright in Kansas City. The end of the season is hopefully a crystal ball into what 2021 will bring.