Playing their first full season under manager Mike Matheny after the pandemic shortened their 2020 campaign to 60 games, the KC Royals accomplished something they hadn’t done in a 162-game season since Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain last played for them in 2017—they avoided 100 losses.
Matheny skippered the 2021 Royals to a 74-88 record, a result many probably found surprising given the state of the club and the fact few expected much from it. The improvement offered hope for 2022.
Hope is a thing easily dashed, however, and there isn’t much left for fans to hope for this season. The Royals are 48-70 after losing their second straight to Minnesota Tuesday night, meaning they have to play exceedingly well to even equal last season’s win total.
It won’t happen. Tying their 2021 record will require a 26-18 finish and the Royals to play like they haven’t all year. And those 26 wins will be hard to come by—of the nine teams Kansas City plays down the stretch, seven are contenders.
The Royals face American League Central-leading Cleveland nine times, the second place Twins seven more times including today’s series finale at Target Field, and third place Chicago four times. They also have four games with Tampa Bay, and three each with San Diego, Seattle and Boston. (On the bright side, Kansas City has nine left with Detroit and a pair with Arizona).
So, don’t look for this team to equal or surpass last season’s win total.
The KC Royals land two on a leading Top 100 Prospect list’s latest rankings.
MLB Pipeline’s latest ratings of Top 100 Prospects came out Tuesday evening and the news wasn’t all bad for the Kansas City organization.
Gavin Cross, the Royals’ first round choice in last month’s amateur draft, is ranked 75th on the list. Cross, an outfielder, was the ninth player picked and, after signing and launching his professional career with three games in the Arizona Complex League and going 5-for-10 with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs, is hitting .250 with another home run and four more RBIs at Low-A Columbia.
Current Royal Nick Pratto is ranked 84th, but because he’s playing regularly in the majors, he’ll soon disappear from Pipeline’s prospect ratings.
Familiar problems plague KC Royals in two straight losses to Minnesota.
Fresh off an encouraging 7-4 homestand that saw them win a pair of four-game series and end the Dodgers’ 12-game win streak, the Royals’ luck is running short in Minnesota. The Twins beat them 4-2 Monday night and whitewashed them 9-0 Tuesday.
Besides some excellent Minnesota pitching, the prime culprits have haunted the Royals much of the season.
Lack of timely hitting accounted for Monday’s loss—the Royals went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left too many on base. MJ Melendez, Nate Eaton and Michael A. Taylor stranded three runners apiece while Bobby Witt Jr., Salvador Perez, Nick Pratto, Brent Rooker and Kyle Isbel all left two on.
Lack of offense and pitching cost the club Tuesday. Kansas City managed only five singles and a walk off Minnesota starter Sonny Gray and three relievers. KC starter Zack Greinke turned in a quality start, struck out five and didn’t issue a walk in six innings, and only one of the three runs he surrendered were earned. But Wyatt Mills and Luke Weaver were each charged with three runs and, although none of Weaver’s were earned, he still gave up three run-scoring hits—even had the Royals bats awakened, the bullpen didn’t give the club a chance.
A former KC Royals hurler appears to have hit a bump in his comeback road.
For Danny Duffy, what might have been in 2021 will never be known. Duffy was Kansas City’s best starter until two flexor strains cost him two trips to the Injured List. Then, and while still on the IL, the club traded him to the Dodgers where a sure spot on LA’s postseason roster awaited him.
But Duffy never made it back into action, started this season on the IL and, although an August return was possible, wasn’t ready to face his former teammates when LA visited Kauffman Stadium last weekend.
Now, he may not pitch at all this year. Reports surfaced Tuesday that Duffy experienced discomfort during a recent workout and that he isn’t likely to pitch in 2022.
He becomes a free agent after the season.
Kansas City winds up its series with Minnesota today beginning at 12:10 p.m. CDT.