The 2021 KC Royals have won four of their last five games and are currently 7-4 on the young season. After Thursday night’s win over the Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City is now in first place in the American League Central. Yes, it is quite early in the season, however, it is always nice to start on the right foot.
Over the course of a few weeks, the Royals have competed with some of baseball’s best teams according to many people’s preseason power rankings. This includes the Blue Jays and the Chicago White Sox. As of Friday morning, the Royals and the Dodgers are the only two teams to not lose a series in 2021. With this ball club, there are several reasons for the early success.
2021 KC Royals: Keep the Line Moving
The motto for the 2015 World Series champions was “keep the line moving”, and that is just what this team does so far in 2021. As we saw in the first series of the year against Texas, Kansas City was nearly unstoppable with runners in scoring position. Michael A. Taylor quickly became a fan favorite as he had one of the best debuts in team history.
However, the bats cooled off a tad in Cleveland and Chicago, but the team still didn’t lose either series. Thursday night back in Kansas City, the Royals got three doubles in the fourth inning that led to four runs against Toronto.
Whit Merrifield, who led the AL in hits in both 2018 and 2019, is currently batting a red-hot .364, with three homers, and 11 RBIs. Salvador Perez is trying to replicate his 2020 campaign at the dish this year and he is currently doing just that by batting .302 and mashing three home runs.
Along with the notable Royals, role players like Nicky Lopez and Hanser Alberto have are doing whatever manager Mike Matheny asks of them. Lopez was not supposed to make the Opening Day roster, however, with Adalberto Mondesi making a trip to the IL, Lopez has been the everyday shortstop and has shown great plate discipline compared to past years and continues to shine on defense. Lopez is not afraid to bunt and use his speed to get an infield single. Lopez is batting a solid .273 while only striking out five times.
As for Hanser Alberto, he signed as a role player but has seen lots of playing time with Hunter Dozier battling a thumb injury. In eight games, Alberto is batting .286 with three runs batted in credited to his name.
Improved Starting Rotation
After two shaky outings, Brad Keller had a quality outing against the Angels. Keller did not make it out of the second inning on Opening Day and got shelled by the White Sox in Chicago. Danny Duffy has started two games and currently has an ERA of 0.75. Jakob Junis may be the key to the rotation after all for the 2021 KC Royals. Junis worked all spring as a reliever but recently was called upon to start in Cleveland last week. In 12 innings, Junis has given up eight hits, two earned runs, three walks, and has an ERA of 1.50.
Young Bullpen Has Life
The 2021 KC Royals bullpen was the huge red alert entering the season, however, the team has found success. In the first 12 games, the Royals have had five different relievers record a save. Kyle Zimmer recorded his first career save in Chicago last Sunday and has faced adversity his entire pro career. With the pressure of being a first-round pick, Zimmer battled several injuries throughout his minor league career, however, Zimmer struggled in his first few years in the bigs, but showed signs of success in 2020. Currently, Zimmer has pitched in six games and has a 1.04 ERA in 8.2 innings.
Josh Staumont is the flamethrowing righty out of the pen and has yet to give up a run in four outings. Rookie Jake Brentz, is the only lefty in the bullpen for the 2021 KC Royals, and manager Mike Matheny has shown a lot of trust in him. Brentz has appeared in six games and has only given up one hit with zero runs. Greg Holland and Wade Davis are the veterans in the bullpen and both are sitting at a 4.15 ERA. It is not sure who will end up with what role, but what Matheny and his staff are doing right now is currently working for the most part.
The Kansas City Royals have not been perfect, to say the least, but what the team has done through two weeks has got fans excited for baseball. KC has started out past seasons dreadful with several losing streaks.
Will this trend continue as the Royals sit atop the AL Central? Who knows because it is still very early in the season. Despite this, the club has put together a group of guys who have given them a chance to compete and win ball games.
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