If you paid attention to the action this week on our site, you would have noticed Diet Pepsi (DP) and yours truly (KCCM) each having nice posts regarding the state of the Royals. Good comments by our readers followed each article and a spirited back and forth ensued between the two resident Royals “experts” of TKCM. The difference in the articles was KCCM acting as the good cop while DP played bad cop. Let’s keep the discussion going……..
DP might have unwillingly painted himself into the role of “bad cop” but he earned this title by using the words “amazingly depressing” in his latest post when referring to his opinion of the Royals season thus far. I on the other hand was my eternal optimistic self. I’ve only met DP once and it was very briefly on Opening Day of this year. I learned enough in that brief encounter to know the guy bleeds blue just like me and his temporary lack of faith is only b/c he’s seen this all before. It’s hard to fall in love with the Royals again and again when you know there is a great chance they will break your heart. I’m going to give DP and the rest of our readers some more reasons to believe that this time around the love might be for real:
Sorry to keep picking on you DP but you were the one that stated earlier “our rotation is the reason we can’t compete for the division as the season progresses”. After that start from Mendoza tonight you might have to reconsider. The guy went a career high 8 IP, only let a man reach second base once, induced 17 ground ball outs and retired 13 in a row to end the game. The best part was he was stronger as the game went on. I know this isn’t the norm with the dude but over his last 4 starts he’s been solid and sporting around a 2.93 ERA. And you know what the best part is a about the start tonight??? He saved the bullpen for the 18 innings we have to go tomorrow during the double-header.
You may say that one start, from one guys isn’t enough to convince you (and I would agree) but let’s take a look at some other factors of this staff/team that give me reason to keep believing:
- The Royals have won 11 of their last 16 games. Your starting pitching has to be doing something decent for that to happen. Bullpen also has a lot to do with that record. Side note regarding our record: we are 32 and 25 since “the streak” ended.
- Mendoza and Hochevar seem to finding their stride with Perez behind the plate. This is a great thing. Remember that Mendoza was lights out last year in AAA. I realize that’s inferior hitting but maybe it’s just taking a while for the “stuff” to translate to the big leagues.
- Starters are finally starting to save the bullpen a little bit. Our BP has been punished to this point of the year. By “punished” I don’t mean beat up by opposing teams, I mean overused by our lack of IP by the starters. That trend seems to be reversing over the past week thanks to deep games by Hoch, Chen and Mendoza. The pen has only pitched 7 innings over the past 4 games AND we’ve had a day off in that span.
- Hitting is really coming alive. Gordon has been the catalyst at the top of the order, Butler is just crazy good at the plate (way to many people take him for granted), Escobar is on pace for a career year, Perez looks ready to mash 20 home runs in only half a season, Moose is making the sophomore slump a myth (too bad Hosmer isn’t) and even the supporting cast of Betancourt, Frenchy (nothing more than a support player and I hope Coach reads that), Dyson, etc. have been playing better. Cain/Myers/Odorizzi will only improve the outlook of our club.
- And to save the best point for last: The Royals have six wins this June alone in which they have won the game by only scoring 2 runs or less. THEY HAD ZERO SUCH GAMES LAST YEAR! In other words…….they didn’t win any games last year if they scored less than two runs. [Caveat: These stats came from Lefebvre in the post game. I don't doubt his knowledge as I think he's one of the best announcers in baseball].
To me, this is the purest sign of a competitive/winning club there is, learning how to win close games. This also totally debunks DP’s argument that our starting pitching staff is going to prevent us from making a push for this division. Our pitching as a whole is solid when you include the bullpen into the equation. Our starters only have to go about 60-65% if the game (that’s around 6 IP) and keep the game reasonable. Once the reserves come in we usually lock things down. That only gives the other team 2/3 of the game to make some noise.
To me the overall vibe of this team says contender. I’m not going to get dragged down by all the negativity that has surrounded this organization the past decade. The true frustration of this fan base can be traced back to the days since our great founder passed away but we are finally getting away from that attitude thanks to new leadership.
Dayton Moore is doing a very nice job changing the culture of this club and turning us into winners from top to bottom. Your AAA team doesn’t just compete for/win PCL crowns year after year with a bunch of washed up players. That man deserves some credit for the core group of players he has put together at the Major League level via “homegrown” talent and there is a lot of positives to look forward to over the next several years regarding Kansas City baseball.
I guess the slogan of one of the goofiest managers in the history of the Royals will just never die in my heart……….”NOSOTROS CREEMOS”. I hope you all feel the same way.
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