Out of all the struggles the KC Royals have had this season, the most prominent concern has been getting timely hits.
Indeed, every time a Royal is able to get on base, Kansas City’s bats seem to die at the most inopportune moments. In Monday’s loss to the Tigers, for example, 13 Royals were left on base and the club hit 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position. This is a major concern considering Detroit sent out eight pitchers from their already depleted bullpen that night.
The Royals left the bases loaded in back-to-back innings the same match, and one swing of the bat could have put them in prime position for a win. Even a single could have at least cut the deficit by half, but Kansas City failed to drive in runs.
During their three-game series with the Tigers, the Royals went 4-for-26 (.154) with RISP, and stranded a total of 25 men on base.
Since their last win June 4, the club has hit an anemic .167 (14-for-84) with runners on base. That’s consistent with the fact that during their 11 of 12 game losing skid heading into Friday night, the Royals stranded a total of 82 men on base.
The KC Royals need to do something, even if it means coaching changes.
Considering their abysmal hitting numbers, a change in coaching should be considered by the Royals.
According to FanGraphs, the KC Royals have hit .245 with RISP since Terry Bradshaw’s promotion to hitting coach in 2018, and had an unsavory .239 mark through Thursday. Compare those stats to Dale Sveum’s 2013-2017 teams that hit .273 with RISP.
The club is in the bottom third of the league in plate discipline, swinging at 34.1% of pitches outside the strike zone. Since Bradshaw took over, the Royals have a K% of 22.68, and with RISP the team’s had a K% of 21.8. These are concerning increases from Sveum’s teams that had an average K% of 17.78 and, with RISP, 16.7%.
Pitching has been another concern for the Royals. The team ranks 22nd overall in the majors with a 4.66 ERA, and are tied with the Angels for fourth worst WHIP at 1.40 with only the Red Sox, Rockies and Diamondbacks ranking behind them.
Though K% has gone up to 23.7 this year, through Thursday Cal Eldred’s pitching staff had a combined 4.79 ERA and had given up an opponents’ average of .263 since Eldred became pitching coach in 2018 at the very same time Bradshaw became hitting coach. For reference, Dave Eiland’s corps from 2013-2017 yielded a 4.04 ERA and .258 opponents’ average.
What’s also concerning are the recent call-ups of top pitching prospects Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar. Lynch posted a 15.75 ERA in three games with the Royals and, after being sent down to Triple-A Omaha, has a 4.88 ERA. Kowar struggled in his first two major league games, posting a 36.00 ERA in two total innings. In Omaha, he yielded a miniscule 0.85 ERA in 31.2 innings and had a 0.88 WHIP.
The numbers can make reasonable observers wonder if coaching has anything to do with these young prospects failing to locate their pitches at a major league level, or hitters whiffing and failing with runners on base.
Needless to say, Manager Mike Matheny and the Kansas City brass can only remain content for so long before doing something to change the fortunes of this faltering club. And those changes may have to start with Bradshaw and Eldred.
Changes should be imminent, for the KC Royals have struggled not only at the plate this season, but also on the mound.