The Kansas City Royals are ten games into the season and find themselves at 3-7, and in last place in their division. They just got swept by the Chicago White Sox, getting outscored 23-9 in the three games. After going 3-4 against a good Cleveland team and a surprising Detroit team, I thought this series would be a good barometer of how how competitive they could be this season. What we saw was a tough series of stranding baserunners, plenty of fielding blunders, and just an overall exposure of the issues that have been plaguing the Royals, not just in this series, but the whole season thus far. Let’s look at some of the things wrong with the Royals team:
Starting Pitching Health
The Royals were dealt a tough hand when both Brad Keller and Jakob Junis, two of their more reliable starters the past few seasons, started the season on the Injured List. To make matters worse, another one of their starters, Mike Montgomery, went on the Injured List this past week. Junis did return to start on Sunday, and pitched well for four innings.
The Royals have had to get creative due to the lack of available arms. The Royals have already started two of their pitching prospects, Brady Singer and Kris Bubic, this season. We could see other prospects like Jackson Kowar or Daniel Lynch later on this season. They’ve also utilized the Opener, giving spot starts to Kyle Zimmer and Ronald Bolanos.
The Royals don’t have a single starting pitcher that has gone six full innings so far this season. Some of it has been due to injury, while other times it’s ineffectiveness. Because of this, the Royals have had to rely on their bullpen, which unsurprisingly has logged the most innings so far this season. They have had some good outings, and some not so good outings. Yestreday afternoon they gave up seven runs in the 7th inning, when the game was tied at 2-2 going into it.
Way too Many Free Bases
One of the main reasons the Royals won two pennants and a World Series championship in 2014 and 2015 was their ability to avoid errors. Over those 31 postseason games, the Royals committed only eight errors, or about one every four games. Over the course of those two regular seasons, they averaged a 0.6 errors per game. Through the first ten games this season, they’ve committed 13 errors (1.3 per game), leading to 11 unearned runs.
In addition to fielders committing errors, the pitchers have put a lot of opposing runners on base via the walk or HBP. Royals pitchers lead the majors with ten HBP, and have also given up 36 walks. This may come as a shock, but it’s hard to win games when you’re giving teams free baserunners and runs.
Poor Hitting with Runners On
While timely hitting is something every team seemingly struggles with at some point in the season, it’s really plagued the Royals early on this season. They are 18-for-78 (0.230) with runners in scoring position. They have left a total of 62 runners on base in the first ten games.
Royals hitters have also struck out 94 times and walked only 16 times. That’s nearly a 6:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While the Royals pitchers are giving up a lot of walks, the offense is not getting enough of their own.
That’s just a few of the things wrong with the Royals. This has been a rough start to the season for Royals fans. It’s not something we’re unfamiliar with (a lot of us have seen worse than this), but with a shorter season and an expanded playoff field, we were hoping to see a little competitiveness out of the team in 2020.
The delayed start does change the outlook a bit. To put it into perspective, the Royals only trail by four games in the division with 50 games to play. They are 2.5 games out of a guaranteed playoff spot (2nd place). Had you told Royals fans that back in March, they would’ve taken that every time. The Royals were not expected to compete this season, so to be (theoretically) within striking distance gives some optimism. While the first leg of the season didn’t go well, there’s five legs left for the team to figure it out and play themselves into a playoff spot. Fans can only hope, otherwise it’ll be another long October.
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