The KC Royals reach the mathematical half-way point of their disappointing 2021 season Friday when they host Minnesota. Unless the Royals keep losing and the Twins suddenly start winning, the contest will pit two teams fighting each other to stay out of the American League Central cellar.
The Royals are 33-43 after Sunday’s loss to Texas, 7-17 in June, 17-30 since the last day they spent in first place, and share last place with the Twins, just percentage points behind Detroit.
For Kansas City, contending is improbable, but not impossible. A lost season lies just around the corner unless the club fixes its erratic starting rotation and lack of meaningful hitting. Change must come now.
Start with the staff. Kings of Kauffman’s Batoul Hammoud persuasively suggested as much recently and now, six losses later, the time has definitely come to replace pitching coach Cal Eldred and hitting coach Terry Bradshaw.
The KC Royals’ pitching and hitting woes call the coaches into question.
That coaches don’t pitch or hit is true, but they do coach and lead, and their roles aren’t limited to teaching and monitoring mechanics and technique. Coaches must study opposing teams’ trends and tendencies, know what pitches opponents throw in given situations and what opposing batters like to hit and in what counts they look for their favorite pitches. They help players develop approaches and strategies.
So, player performance and coaching are related, the former always somewhat dependent on the latter. In the Royals’ case this season, the rotation has been rocky from the start. Aside from Danny Duffy, and to some extent Mike Minor, KC starters are painfully inconsistent and struggle constantly; identifying the club’s five starters is a daily challenge. Stellar minor league pitchers Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar excelled in the minors only to fail miserably when promoted to KC.
And the offense has struggled since early May. Even casual observers know this team doesn’t drive in runs with runners in scoring position or deliver in other clutch moments. Key players like Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier haven’t hit all season and repeat the same mistakes day in and day out.
The club requires a shakeup. Hammoud was and is correct—it needs to start with Eldred and Bradshaw. No longer should the Royals consider keeping them.
Other moves must also be made now.