Quickies on the scuffling Royals
The Kansas City Star
The Royals have lost six of their last seven, often looking limp in the process, so maybe it’s a bad time to mention that the 2009 Zack-and-Billy-and-a-bunch-of-duct-tape Royals lost their hope with a seven-game losing streak in May.
But it’s true.
The Royals have only been blown out once in this stretch, an 11-6 loss to the Yankees on Friday, but they’ve also lost some agonizing games. Unearned runs. Weak at bats. Bullpen problems.
As a franchise, the Royals have spent the last 20 years forfeiting any right to the benefit of the doubt, so however many people are sitting around Kansas City thinking, “Same ol’ Royals,” well, like I say, they come by their skepticism honestly.
All that said, some quick big picture observations, good and bad, as the Royals start a nine-game road trip tonight in Anaheim:
They are 18-16, and you would’ve taken that at the beginning of the year. This is a .500 or slightly better team, and overall, they’ve played exactly like it.
They are about one-third of the way through a rough 30-game stretch of the schedule we all identified before the season as being particularly important and telling, and they’re 5-6. Not terrible.
No matter what they say publicly, there are real signs the Royals are losing some patience with Chris Getz and Jeff Francoeur. For whatever it’s worth, I love the idea of platooning Frenchy and Dyson. Reasonable minds can differ, but I think the Royals improve defensively with Dyson in center and Cain in right, and they certainly improve offensively with Dyson hitting righties and Frenchy hitting lefties. Francoeur is hitting 72 points higher against lefties than righties this year, and his career OPS is 119 points higher against lefties. Especially if Alcides Escobar isn’t going to leadoff — and he’s said he’s more comfortable hitting second — Dyson at the top of the order might be the Royals’ best chance to score more runs.
The Royals have had some weak at bats in the last week or so, and are currently 13th in the American League in runs. That’s still a bit misleading though, with all the rainouts. They’re a merely bad — not awful — 10th in runs per game.
The Royals are 1-4 when James Shields gives up two or fewer earned runs. They are 2-1 when he gives up three or more.
I don’t know how much this means at this point in the season, but it surprised me when I looked it up so here goes: the Royals are third in the majors and second in the American League in the advanced metric Defensive Runs Saved. They have also, far as I can tell, given up more unearned runs than all but five big league teams. So make of that what you will.
I was among those saying I didn’t see the kind of brutal, season-sinking losing streak that has marked so many Royals teams in the past because of the starting rotation. I still think that’s true — I’d be surprised if the Royals lost more than the five- or six-straight games that most teams do at some point in the season — but the offense needs to pick it up. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s probably not as bad as many think, but it’s also true that half of their 16 losses have come when giving up four or fewer runs.