That the KC Royals don't play today may be a good thing, especially considering the series sweep they suffered when Miami beat them for the third straight time Wednesday. The 6-1 loss put the American League Central's last-place team a hopeless 18 games out of an American League Wild Card spot.
The Royals, though, are not the worst team in the major leagues. That dubious distinction belongs, as it has all season, to Oakland, a team searching not only for itself but also for some place to play in Las Vegas.
But it might be time to start a Worst Team Watch and include Kansas City. Coupled with the Athletics' 9-5 victory over Pittsburgh Wednesday, the Royals' loss to Miami means their 18-44 record is not that much better than Oakland's 14-50. And Kansas City seems to be getting worse, not better.
Some might say let the race for the majors' worst team begin. We shall see.
A reliever is the latest KC Royals pitcher sidelined with an injury
Wednesday, just hours before Miami beat them, the Royals added yet another key pitcher to the long list of KC Royals hurlers who've missed, or are missing, time on the mound this season.
Reliever Josh Staumont landed on the 15-day Injured List with a neck strain. The righthander last spent time on the IL last year when a bicep issue ended his season in late August. He last pitched Monday and is 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA in 21 appearances.
Taking Staumont's place on Kansas City's active roster is lefty Austin Cox, who in 10 games (eight starts) was 2-1, 3.83 at Triple-A Omaha. The club also called him up last month and he made his big league debut May 4 by pitching two scoreless innings in relief against Baltimore. Despite the good performance, the Royals optioned him back to Omaha the next day.
Cox, 22-16 with a 3.67 ERA in five minor league seasons, could step into the rotation if manager Matt Quatraro decides to stop using an "opener". Otherwise, expect him to pitch out of the pen. He didn't see action Wednesday.
There's an old friend waiting for the KC Royals in Baltimore this weekend
The Royals open a three-game series with the Orioles in Baltimore Friday night. The O's, whose 37-24 record is good for second place in the American League, boast a former Royal who appears to be experiencing, at least for the time being, a resurgence of sorts. As we pointed out in this space a few days ago, Ryan O'Hearn must be finding Baltimore to his liking.
O'Hearn, who never repeated with the Royals his impressive 44-game rookie performance of 2018 (12 home runs, 30 RBIs, .262/.353/.597), is slashing .286/.328/.536 in 21 games with Baltimore this year. He's also driven in 15 runs and hit this, his third homer as an Oriole, against the Brewers, and off fellow former Royal Joel Payamps, Tuesday night:
O'Hearn's former Royal teammates will undoubtedly enjoy seeing him this weekend. And O'Hearn might just relish the opportunity to square off against the team that traded him away over the winter.
Also worth watching this weekend will be Baltimore catcher Adley Rutschman, whose eight homers, 28 RBIs .281 average and .399 OBP make him one of KC backstop Salvador Perez's main competitors for starting catcher on the American League All-Star team.