Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

Browsing Posts published by Clark Fosler

Nate Adcock had a hell of a start last night, making just one mistake in five innings of work.   Unfortunately, Adcock’s ‘start’ began in the 11th inning and his one mistake, a rotund slider to Adam Jones, ended up costing the Royals the game.   While Adcock gets the loss, it is hard to put much blame on him.   The Royals had this game thanks to seven shutout innings from Felipe Paulino (18.2 innings over 3 starts now, with just 5 runs allowed) and two timely hits only to see Jonathan Broxton blow the save by giving up two runs in the ninth.

Having entered the game with a 14-0 record when leading after 8 innings, so the odds were that something bad was due to happen.    What the team does in the aftermath will determine if Wednesday night’s loss was ‘just baseball’ or a punch in the gut that sends this team into a funk.

Back to Adcock, however.   Despite or actually, because of his excellent five innings of work last night, Nate may well find himself heading back up I-29 to Omaha this afternoon.   A roster move is likely and Adcock’s the guy that is out of commission for at least the next three days.  He can wave at Everett Teaford as they pass…probably not the last time that is going to happen this year.

When it comes to roster moves, however, that one is not the eye catcher.   Before yesterday’s game, the Royals announced that Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi had both been promoted from Northwest Arkansas to Omaha.   Those moves, very simply, mean that both could make their major league debuts by the All-Star Break and almost certainly puts them in position (with good performances, of course) to break camp with the big club for Opening Day 2013.

Myers was hitting .343/.414/.731 in 152 plate appearances this year in AA, after struggling through a .254/.353/.393 2011 campaign at the same level (416 plate appearances).     By comparison, Eric Hosmer had a career total of just 211 AA plate appearances, where he hit .313/.365/.615.  The other big bat in the organization, Mike Moustakas, spent 259 plate appearances in AA (absolutely destroying that league).   If you want to erase the better part of Myers’ 2011 season, writing most of  it off to nagging injuries, you could make the leap that Wil has spent about as much healthy time in AA as both Hosmer and Moustakas did.

Hosmer was promoted to Omaha over the off-season and enjoyed just 118 plate appearances there at the beginning of last season (.439/.525/.582) before heading to Kansas City.   Moustakas, on the other hand, was promoted in the middle of 2010 and hit .293/.315/.564 over 236 plate appearances to finish out that year.  He returned to the Storm Chasers to start 2011, hit .287/.347/.498 and was promoted to KC after another 250 plate appearances.

Now, both Hosmer and Moustakas played positions for which the Royals had openings at the big league level.  Wilson Betemit was playing third in Kansas City and Kila Ka’aihue was playing first.  Neither was hitting very well and neither was one of the organization’s darlings.   Both were easy moves to make.

Myers, on the other hand, would be pushing out an outfielder.   They just signed Alex Gordon to a long term deal, Jeff Francoeur has a two year deal that makes him hard to trade (and he’s FRENCHY for gods-sake!) and the team has Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain in center.   Not to mention, that I don’t know that Myers could really handle center on an everyday basis in the majors.

Bottom line, I don’t know where Myers fits in this lineup without a drastic move or a big leap of faith (i.e. playing him in center).  Despite that, the Royals did not promote him just for fun.  Myers will likely amass 250 AAA plate appearances by the end of July, twice as many as Hosmer had and as many as Moose had in 2011.   If he stays in Omaha all year, he will come pretty close to getting as many PA’s as Moustakas did in total.

Where he fits, I don’t know, but if Myers hits AAA pitching, we may well find out before the kids head back to school.

The obvious comp for Odorizzi is Danny Duffy.    Danny threw 40 innings at AA in 2010, 42 in Omaha to start 2011 and was in Kansas City.  By contrast Odorizzi threw 69 uneven innings in AA last year and then fired out 38 more this year at the same level.  Jake struck out 47 batters in those 38 innings, walked just 10 and allowed only 27 hits.   He was certainly ready to move up.

The Royals, of course, were more than ready for him to move up as well.   With Danny Duffy down with Tommy John surgery and Mike Montgomery still struggling to find consistency, finding room for Odorizzi is not the problem.   You can certainly make the case that Duffy might have been rushed, but Odorizzi (assuming he is effective) will have as many AAA innings as Duffy had by early July and should have 10 or 11 AAA starts under his belt by the end of that month.

There is no doubt in my mind that Jake Odorizzi, if effective in Omaha (and that is not an ‘if’ to be ignored), will be in Kansas City no later than August.   There is no reason for him not to be.

From a service time perspective, when either Myers or Odorizzi comes up this year will have no effect on when they become eligible for arbitration or free agency.  The only gaming of service time that the Royals would consider would be to keep them both in the minors until late May of next year.   That is not something to be discounted, but also something that does not need to be decided right now, either.

If the team is hanging around in July, both of these guys might be the added boost to make the second half of 2012 really exciting.  If the Royals have sunk into the ‘we might NOT lose 90 this year’ range, then maybe you keep them down and not start their clock until sometime in early 2013.   Certainly, Jeff Francoeur will be more tradable in 2013 than he is right now due to his contract.

Those are all considerations, but Dayton Moore really did not move prospects last year with those sorts of timing issues in mind (rightly or wrongly).  When the big names were ready, no matter how little time they had at AAA, Moore brought them up.  I think the odds are very good that both Myers and Odorizzi are in Kansas City before September of this year.

xxx

 

Last night, Ned Yost wrote down a lineup whose number four through eight hitters combined had ZERO home runs.   Jarrod Dyson, batting lead-off, also has not hit a dinger and Alcides Escobar batting ninth has only one.  Basically, it was Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and no hope…right?   Well, dummy, of course the Royals win with that lineup against Jon Lester.  We all should have known.

Sure, the Red Sox outfielders certainly helped the Royals along and, to be honest, this is hardly the starting nine that Boston fans expected to be on the field when the year started.  Of course, this was hardly the nine that Royals’ fans expected, either.   Let’s call it even and let’s call it what it was:  a good win and a good homestand.

The Royals finished 4-3 on this homestand:  finally winning at home, finally beating a left-handed starter and hopefully giving themselves a good dose of relaxation.    This team started the year anxious, hyped up and fell flat on their faces.  Now, one would hope they should be in something of a groove.

A 4-3 road trip followed by a 4-3 homestand, while not ‘hot’, is certainly in a groove (which is different than a rut, which is different than what Luke Hochevar is in, but I digress).  In fact, if the Royals could win 8 games out of every 14 until the end of June, they would be back at .500.    Realistic?  Maybe.

The Royals head on the road to play three at Chicago and two at Texas.  The Rangers flat out scare the crap out of me, but even though they are playing better than expected, the White Sox are considerably less imposing.    Two out of five on this short trip would not be a disaster, while three out of five would be a great success.

After that, KC comes home to play two against Baltimore (are they for real?  I’m skeptical) and three against Arizona.   Combined with the five games on the road, coming out of this ten game stretch, I would take a 5-5 record right now and head out on a nine game road journey to New York, Baltimore and Cleveland.   That is followed by six games at home against Minnesota and Oakland, then three games at Pittsburgh.

That is twenty-eight games, two groups of fourteen.  Do you see a couple of 8-6 records in there?  Maybe, maybe not.  I know for a fact it won’t happen unless:

The Starting Pitching Stops Going Short

Truthfully, it is kind of amazing the Royals managed to go 8-6 with some of the starting pitching performances that occurred during this span.    In eight of the last eleven games, Royals’ starters have not made it out of the sixth inning.  In six of those they have not made it out of the fifth.   The bullpen, as expected, has been very good (hell, who is kidding who, it’s been great) and Ned Yost and Dayton Moore have done a nice job of cycling guys through to keep it semi-fresh, but you can’t keep doing that.

I am not asking for seven innings plus, but the starting rotation cannot implode on back to back nights, bracketed by five inning grueling performances.   There are not enough relievers in the universe to cover for that all summer.   With one exception, Bruce Chen has given the Royals’ innings and one would hope that Danny Duffy will start to as well.  The addition of Felipe Paulino and the subtraction of Jonathan Sanchez from the rotation can’t hurt, either.

More innings, gentlemen.   More, better innings, please.

Just Hit Eric

He’s going to hit, you hope that Eric Hosmer starts doing it before summer and certainly before next year.   Although it made last night’s lineup look pretty funky, sitting Hosmer for a day was a sound idea.   Frankly, I’m a little surprised Yost did not do it sooner or at least have Hosmer DH for a couple of days just to change things up.    While Hosmer had some pretty bad hitting luck during a lot of this year, lately his contact has been less solid and, frankly, Eric looks a little lost at the plate (or worse, looks a little like Mark Reynolds).

I would have no problem with Hosmer swapping places in the order with Mike Moustakas (man, is he playing well or what?) and, as mentioned above, spending a day or two at DH just to give him something different to think about.  I’m not Kevin Seitzer, (even though I did hit .556 at Fantasy Camp) but my advice to Eric Hosmer is to stop thinking so much and just swing the stick.

Hosmer’s going to hit…eventually.   When he does, the Royals’ lineup goes from alright to really good.

LET THEM PLAY, NED.

There exists a very good probability that if I was a major league manager, I would want to ‘manage all the time’ as well.  I mean, that is Ned Yost’s job and is one where every single decision, including where you stand in the dugout, can and will be second guessed.  It’s the nature of the beast, it’s not going to change and, frankly, there is nothing wrong with that.

That said, Yost needs to let the games unfold on their own sometimes.   This team, if you assume Hosmer will hit and Francoeur will sort of hit, once in a while, will score runs all on their own.  The Royals swing the bats well enough that they don’t have to manufacture runs (there is a time and place of that, but it is nowhere near as often as Yost thinks), they don’t have to force the issue and risk running into outs at a breakneck pace.  

Believe in your lineup and let them score runs.  Besides, Ned, with this starting rotation, you will have many, many chances to ‘manage’ each night.

After a dismal beginning, this team has won on a regular basis over the past couple of weeks.  They have done so without playing really good baseball and certainly with the handicap of poor starting pitching.  There have been baserunning gaffes, defensive miscues and questionable strategy, but the Royals have managed to grind out a nice 8-6 run.

Taking whatever opinion you might have of Ned Yost, positive or negative, out of the equation, whether this team can keep moving forward will come down to the other two issues above.   Eric Hosmer needs to hit and hit a lot and the rotation is whatever form it becomes needs to take games into the sixth inning.   

Easier said then done to be sure, but doable…..maybe.

xxx

 

When Luke Hochevar stepped to the mound yesterday afternoon to start the third inning, it was the beginning of his 614th career major league inning.  Six runs and just two outs later, Hochevar’s day was done and it marked the end of this writer holding out hope that Hochevar will ever be something more than what he basically is.

Through 613.2 innings, Hochevar has a career 5.46 earned run average.  He has allowed 662 hits and 70 home runs, while striking out 5.9 batters per nine innings and walking 3.1 per nine.   Through 706 innings (which is everything but his truly horrible 2011 campaign), Kyle Davies allowed 792 hits, 92 home runs, struck out 6.3 per nine and walked 4.3 per nine; pitching to a 5.49 earned run average.   Davies was a very poor major league starting pitcher and Luke Hochevar is better than him…but not by a wide margin.

To be fair, Hochevar’s career FIP is 4.40 and his xFIP is 4.29, which would seem to indicate that he is, or at least should be, a better pitcher than his traditional numbers imply.   That said, Hochevar does not pass the eye test any longer.   He is an inconsistent pitcher who, after 600 major league innings, does not look much different than he did after 129 major league innings.

Hochevar has made six starts this season and in three has failed to get past the fourth inning.  In those three starts, Luke has allowed SEVEN earned runs twice and NINE another time.   This is not a ‘rut’ or a ‘rough patch’, this is bad, bad pitching. 

Last year, after the All-Star Break, Hochevar threw 79 innings, allowing 66 hits, struck 68, walked 24 and posted a 3.52 ERA.   That run came on the heels of two starts where Luke allowed 11 runs over 8 innings.   He has been awful before and gotten better.   Heck, pull the game logs from any of Luke’s seasons and you can find a string of bad starts and a string of good starts.  You can find some truly masterful games and some truly horrific outings.   You can find them in each and every season and that’s the point:  it isn’t getting any better. 

In fact, it might be getting worse.

Short of the three season ending starts for Hochevar way back in 2009, where he allowed 21 earned runs in a combined 14 innings, this stretch of three awful starts in six tries might well be the worst of Luke’s career.   They come at a time when many of us believed that Hochevar had or at least should be turning the corner and becoming a consistent middle of the rotation starter.

He is 28 years old and 600 innings into his career, coming off a 2011 season where he made 31 starts and threw 198 innings.   THIS was the year.     Apparently, 2012 is the year we all become convinced that Hochevar will never be more than a fringe rotation contributor.   The guy at the front of the line to be replaced if Mike Montgomery and his new release point come of age in Omaha.

I know what you might be saying.   Just a couple weeks back I was still on the Hochevar bandwagon.  He had three decent starts out of four and seemed to have discovered increased effectiveness through the increased use of his off-speed pitches.   You might also offer that as bad as Luke’s three starts have been, he has given his team a chance to win half the time he takes the mound and that every starter has bad starts.

Every starter does have bad starts and they might well end up being tagged for seven runs at times, but consistently all in one inning?  Three runs in the second, one in the third and two in the fourth add up to six runs and a bad outing, but six runs in the third buries your team.  Chances are six runs however you slice them ends up in a loss, but I like my chances a lot better if they don’t come in one demoralizing inning.  Down 3-0 in the second and 4-1 in the third is not the Mount Everest for your hitters to climb that 6-1 in the third is.

At one time or another, at one level or another, we have all played baseball.   Three to nothing is a walk, a double and a single away from being back in the game.   Six to one is forever and back to get into the game.   It affects how your hitters approach their at-bats and how your fielders play their positions. 

Three times out of six, Luke Hochevar has buried his team.   Three times out of six, he has given the Kansas City Royals virtually zero chance to win a game.   Bruce Chen was tagged for six on Friday night, but he gave the Royals six innings to try to do something against C.C. Sabathia.   Hochevar gave his team just two innings on Sunday to try to master the struggling Phil Hughes before the game became academic.

So, Luke my friend, I am done.   Done analyzing your cutter and your pitch selection and getting hopeful when you string together two or three good starts.  I’m done because I know for every start where you go seven strong innings, there is a four inning/five run outing just around the corner (or worse).   I am done, because after six hundred innings you probably are who you are.

Now, the Royals don’t really have an option at this point and likely would not use it to replace Hochevar even if they did.   I am not calling for Luke’s immediate removal from the starting rotation because Mike Montgomery is not ready, Jake Odorizzi is in AA, Nate Adcock is not likely (at this point) to be any more consistent and neither is Everett Teaford.   Vin Mazzaro?  Well, would he be an upgrade?

Nope, Hochevar will make more starts for this team.  He might well make about 25 more this year and some of them will be quite good.   When 2012 ends, some may still believe that Luke Hochevar will be a valuable member of what is hopefully a contending rotation in seasons to come.  I think that is wrong thinking.  Hochevar is who he is and, should Luke get on a run in June or July, Dayton Moore would be wise to shop him for something…anything to a team with pitching woes and high hopes.

xxx

 

 

Three feet more towards the middle, or hit a little harder or even not quite as hard, or if the ball had bounced a little more or not as much:  any of those things and Chris Getz would not have been a hero on Wednesday afternoon.   The game winning single was, after all, an infield hit into the hole at shortstop and let’s not kid ourselves, a left side of Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta is not exactly hitting into the teeth of an imposing pair of defenders. 

Still, as we wake up Thursday morning, a hit is a hit and Chris Getz earned all the luck he got when he drove in Mike Moustakas with two outs in the top of the ninth.   That was after Aaron Crow surrendered a two run homer, not to Cabrera or Prince Fielder or even Alex Avila, but instead to Brennan Boesch in the bottom of the eighth, allowing the Tigers to tie the game.  It was after the Royals left a runner on third base twice earlier in the game.   After they watched Alcides Escobar get thrown out attempting to steal and after they ended three other innings with a runner on second.

If you weren’t feeling impending doom entering the ninth inning yesterday, then you have not been a Royals’ fan very long.

So, here we are, top of the ninth with the game tied.  Mike Moustakas has rapped a one out double (with two strikes mind you) and moved to third on a Brayan Pena ground out.  Up strides Chris Getz.   Now, if you have been reading this site for any amount of time, you know that none of us who write here are particularly fond of Getz.   He is an average defender, a supposed on-base guy who doesn’t really walk that much and last year managed NINE whole extra base hits in 429 plate appearances. 

All that doesn’t matter right now.  Today, we should all be fans of Chris Getz…if only for a day.

On a team that has an at least perceived penchant for taking called third strikes in big late game situations (see the Twitter uproar regarding Alex Gordon a few weeks back), Chris Getz did not allow the umpire to decide his plate appearance.   Not with the go ahead run on third and not on a day when the team as a whole had a miserable time driving in runners who were ‘right there, 90 freaking feet away’.  Of course, Justin Verlander was on the mound for 8 innings and he is a legitimate superfreak.

Coming into the contest, Joaquin Benoit had struck out 16 batters in 9 innings of work.   He had not been particularly sharp, allowing 12 hits and 9 walks, this year, but he was still making guys swing and miss.   Outside of his ability to steal a base, it is possible that Getz’s best baseball attribute is the fact that he does not swing and miss much.    Still, you might well run down a pretty long list of names on the Royals’ roster that you want up in this situation before you get to Chris.

Pitch number one is a 91 mph four seamer right down the middle that Getz fouls off.

Pitch two is an 80 mph changeup down in the zone that Chris gets just a piece of.   No balls, two strikes and it is not looking good.

Number three is also a changeup, down and in.  It is a ball, but Getz swings and fouls it off.  Now, in hindsight, Chris should have laid off this pitch, but Benoit was throwing that change with a lot of movement and, for his part, Getz was not going to get caught looking.

In comes pitch number four.  It is a 95 mph fastball right at the top of the zone.  Pitch f/x says it is a strike, the umpire might have called it high, but with two strikes in the ninth you cannot take that chance.  Getz gets a piece of it and fouls off his fourth straight pitch.

Pitch number five is a 76 mph changeup, down the middle, but up in Getz’s eyes.  Another foul ball.  Here, probably, Getz should have taken, but you know that ball looked huge waffling in there slow and high.  Eric Hosmer might well have hit that 481 feet, Getz fouls it off.  We can’t all be poster boys.

Number six is a 95 mph four seamer down and away.   Benoit has been wild this year, but you have to think that was a chase pitch.  That’s good strategy in that you have a batter obviously hacking and maybe you get him to flail at this unhittable ball.  Getz, for the first time in the plate appearance, keeps the bat on his shoulder.  One ball, two strikes.

Benoit’s seventh offering is an 85 mph changeup dropping down out of the strike zone.  Getz stays with it for another foul ball.   With that pitch, you can take it and hope it does move out of the zone or you can foul it off.  

Number eight is a 94 mph fastball, low in the strike zone.   Getz hits it into the hole and runs….fast.   While Peralta fields the ball cleanly, he has not shot at getting Getz at first.  The run scores and the Royals are on their way to a win and a winning road trip.

As I said at the beginning, it was just an infield single, but it was hard earned infield single.   An inch here or there on the bat and Getz is not a hero, but what Chris Getz did do was give himself a chance.  Good at-bats don’t always result in line drives, but ground balls sometimes end up in the right spot.

Chris Getz had a good at-bat at a great time and fortune smiled on him and the Royals.  For at least one day, Chris Getz is alright in my book.

xxx

 

Being a long reliever is an inglorious job.  You sit and sit and wait and wait and people make jokes about putting your face on the side of a milk carton.   When the call finally comes, it is usually when your team is in dire straits (or not straits at all) and, after sitting for a week, you are expected to pitch multiple innings. 

Everett Teaford was the original long man this year, sitting for seven days to start the season before being called upon to pitch four innings against Cleveland with his team down five runs.   He waited eight more days before throwing three more innings and then was called upon to make a spot start last Friday. 

Teaford did not have a good start on Friday:  lasting just four innings.   At that point, without a long man in his pen and due to the back and forth nature of that very entertaining contest, Ned Yost had to use five relievers to finish out the game.  The five combined for 85 pitches and the Royals’ deep pen was suddenly in real trouble.

Probably the rain out on Saturday, which did nothing to help Kansas City’s building momentum, was a very good thing for the bullpen.  That and the callup of Nathan Adcock to replace the ‘used up’ Everett Teaford on the roster.

I have to admit, when Adcock was summoned from Omaha to replace Teaford, I kind of thought it was an overreaction by the Royals.  They have exhibited a tendency to panic at the first sign of stress on their bullpen arms.   Yost, in particular, seems borderline paranoid at times about having a long man ready to go.   Hey, the baseball men got it right this time.

Enter the bad Bruce Chen on Sunday.  We see him from time to time – frankly, I remain continually surprised we don’t see him more often.  When Chen doesn’t have it, balls get ripped around the ballpark.  It happens to everyone not named Verlander and Halladay, and it happened to Chen on Sunday.   His defense didn’t help him much, but Bruce did not help himself much, either.

With two outs in the third and six runs already in, Nate Adcock got the call.   

The Royals were down 6-1 and, although they would make some runs at the Twins, this game was pretty much decided.  There is no glory to be had here and, with five plus innings left to go, Yost had to be thinking he was going to grind through the pen again.   With three games looming at Detroit, two of which will be started by Sanchez and Mendoza (combined will they reach double digits in innings pitched in the Motor City?), that is not a scenario where you have to burn up the likes of Collins, Coleman and Crow just to finish a blowout game.   You can insert your Mitch Maier comment/joke here, by the way.

Instead of that, Adcock got Alexi Casilla to pop out to end the third.   He worked around a one out walk in the fourth, wriggled out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth, faced the minimum in the sixth and was tagged for a run on two doubles in the seventh.  After getting two groundouts to start the eighth, Adcock walked back to back hitters before getting Josh Williingham to fly out to end the inning.

It was not the prettiest of outings, as Adcock allowed eight baserunners in five and one-third innings, but he held the Twins to just one run over that time.  Had his offensive mates managed to get more than four runs out of fourteen baserunners, Adcock might have gotten a little glory after all.  

As it stood, though, Kansas City never seemed to really be in this game.   That left Nate Adcock out on the mound with one mission:  save the rest of the staff for games that the Royals might have a real chance to win and that is exactly what he did.    The Royals enter Detroit tonight with a fully stocked and fresh bullpen, except for a long man.

There’s the rub.   Adcock, by doing his job and pitching five innings on Sunday, likely got his ticket punched back to the minors so that the Royals can recall someone who will be available to throw early this week.  Such is the life of the long man.   Everett Teaford and Nate Adcock know the drill.   They are the forgotten men:  seldom needed, but expected to excel when duty calls and, if they pitch well enough, likely to be sent to the minors in exchange for a fresher arm.

Like Teaford’s performance on April 13th, we probably won’t give Adcock’s five innings of cleanup work yesterday much thought as the season progresses.  However, when Ned Yost makes the slow walk to the mound tonight and on Tuesday night, you can thank Adcock for the fact that everyone is ready for duty.

xxx

 

Eight runs last night for the Kansas City Royals on four home runs.  That’s pretty much what one might have expected before the season started, right?  Billy Butler with two blasts, Eric Hosmer with his fifth of the year and Alex Gordon with the bomb to put the game away while the bullpen polished off the last two plus innings:  pretty much the pre-season gameplan.

While the offense stole the show in the streak stopper last night, Luke Hochevar had a fine outing.  The home opener disaster that Luke provide Royals’ fans on April 13th has tainted the view of him thus far in 2012.   Last night was his second very good start and third decent start out of four this season.  He’s no Bruce Chen, mind you, but Hochevar has actually been alright.

Luke opened the season throwing 6.1 innings against the Angels, allowing five hits and two runs.   After being knocked out, in more ways than one, in the home opener, Hochevar game back the following Friday to allow just two hits and a run in five innings of work.   Then last night, Luke tossed another 6.1 innings, allowing just four hits and two runs.  We may all want Hochevar to live up to that first overall draft pick status, but truth is that three out of four ain’t bad.

Let’s go back to last night. 

Pitch F/X via Brook’s Baseball classified Luke as throwing five different pitches last night (six in his first three starts):  four seam fastball, sinker, changeup, slider and curve.   The sixth pitch not used last night but used quite a bit by Hochevar in his first three starts was the cutter.   Now, you can call the sinker whatever you want (two seamer maybe?), but it is as fast or faster than Hochevar’s four seam fastball, and for the purposes of this column they are all fastballs.

Last night, Hochevar threw 47 fastballs, 29 sliders, 13 curves and 8 changeups.    Off his fastball offerings, 28 were strikes, and 22 of his 29 sliders were strikes with six of those being whiffs.   Luke only found the strike zone once with his change and half the time with his curveball.  

This season, the changeup has mostly been a ‘here’s something to think about pitch’ for Hochevar.   In his four starts, Luke has thrown it 4, 9, 9 and 8 times and hence it is not a huge part of his game.    So, let’s take that out of the equation for now as well.

The cutter, not used at all according to the data last night, was a good pitch for Hochevar earlier.  He threw it 14 times for 8 strikes (2 whiffs) on April 7th and threw it for virtually identical numbers in his third start.   In the debacle that was Friday April 13th, Hochevar offered it up seven times for five strikes.  An effective cutter helped Hochevar in his good start on the 7th an decent start on the 20th, but was not a part of his good outing last night.    Now, it is also possible that the cutter gets classified as a slider or vice-versa, but we could add them all together and only add more to the point that I am about to make below.

So, now we’re down to fastballs, curveballs and sliders. 

Compare the pitch counts of these pitches from Hochevar’s starts on April 7th (shown first) and last night:  two very good and very similar nights.

  • Fastballs – 43/47
  • Sliders – 21/29
  • Curves – 13/13

Okay, now look at the pitch usage from the awful start on the 13th:

  • Fastballs – 41
  • Sliders – 6
  • Curves – 7

Here is the interesting thing about the dramatic disparity in pitch selection:  the strike percentage of those three pitches is actually almost the same between the starts on the 7th, 13th and last night.   While Luke was getting lit up in Kaufmann Stadium, he three five of six sliders for strikes, 29 of 41 fastballs for strikes and three of seven curves.   Of course, ‘hits’ are considered strikes, so it is possible that Luke threw some pretty crappy sliders and fastballs (well, it’s not possible, he DID) on the 13th.

What should not be lost in this equation is when Hochevar offers up sliders somewhere at or above 20% of the time, he has been very effective this season.   Looking back at 2011, Hochevar barely threw the slider at all in April, May and June of that season (less than 5%), but gradually started using it more and more after that and was throwing it 18% of the time in September.

If want to lump the slider and cutter together as one ‘genre of a pitch’, Hochevar threw 35 on the 7th, 33 on the 20th and 29 last night, but only 13 on April 13th.  Call it what you want, but Hochevar need to command it and throw it often to be successful.

You can go back into 2011 and note that in the first three months and find that twenty percent of Hochevar’s pitches were being classified as cutters.   If you add that to the sliders, the percentages really don’t change that much over 2011, but something did change.   Starting in July of 2011, Hochevar either threw the slider more or changed his cutter enough to make the data reflect a change in pitch.  Hey, if the computers see it different, so do the hitters.

The change worked last season and, through four starts this year, when Hochevar uses that pitch often he is effective.   It was not used often or effectively on April 13th and we all saw the results.   Throw the slider, Luke, throw it often.

xxx

 

 

 

Ten straight losses.   Nine straight at home.  New and inventive ways to lose every day.  A player to the disabled list every week. Welcome to the 2012 Kansas City Royals, ladies and gentlemen.

There have been a lot of things that have gone wrong through 15 games.  In fact, at one time or another, almost everything has gone wrong.  Enough, in fact, to have Ned Yost remark that changes may be on the horizon.  It is a deep, dark hole and there really is no way around it.   Losing 12 of 15, while accentuated by having it happen to start the season, would be a bad stretch and extremely noticeable at any time in the season.   Three and twelve is three and twelve, folks.   If you are not panicking just a little, then you are just being a contrarian for the sake of being contrarian.

All that said, the Kansas City Royals could reach .500 by the end of the season by simply winning two more games than the lose in each month.  Of course, that assumes they right the ship and manage to play it even until we get to May Day.  Sadly, that is a rather optimistic, sunshine pumping assumption right now.

As bad as the 2012 campaign has begun, some things have gone right. 

  • Mike Moustakas, with three hits on Sunday, raised his average to .269 and now has eight extra base hits.  Along the way, Sunday’s error was the first blemish on what has been a very good defensive start for him.   One cannot trust defensive stats this early in the year (or a player’s career), but the stats and the eyes certainly are pointing to Moustakas being a far better defender than was originally thought when he was coming up.  Decent or better fielding coupled with a pace that puts Moustakas on track for fifty plus extra base hits is indeed something good.
  • Speaking of good fielding.  Well, let’s be serious, really good and probably great defense.  Even after an 0 for 3 on Sunday, Alcides Escobar is hitting .286 with a .322 on-base percentage.  Those numbers don’t get you in the Hall of Fame, but when combined with Escobar’s impact on defense, they are more than enough to get him deep into the positive side of the ledger.  Sure, he has a somewhat fortutious .341 BABIP, but it is not crazy lucky.  Prior to the season, if you were told that Escobar would have four doubles, a triple and a home run by game number 15, would you have even asked how often he was getting on base?  Oh yeah, he has four stolen bases without being caught.
  • Billy Butler.  I almost didn’t put Billy on this list because he has done exactly what we expected:  hit.  You have arrived when an early wOBA of .394 gets you a ‘yeah, that’s Billy, he can hit’ response.
  • I will probably draw some ire here, but I am not going to expound on the early season runs of Yuniesky Betancourt, Humberto Quintero or Mitch Maier’s .370 on base percentage.  Maybe it’s bias, but I see Butler, Escobar and Moustakas building on their good starts and see the first three players in this bullet point falling.  Yes, they have all three had moments and, quite frankly, more moments than many on the roster.  Long term, I don’t see Yuni, Humbo and Mitch as answers to anything.  I will make a deal with you:  if Yuniesky Betancourt has an OPS over .800 May 23rd, I will write 1,000 words of something nice about him.
  • Bruce Chen and Danny Duffy.  While Duffy had a rough day on Sunday, he was outstanding in his first two starts and I think most of us would be delighted if Danny could produce two good starts out of every three in his sophmore season.   As for Chen, I give up, he appears to be the next Jamie Moyer and, for right now anyway, the Royals can sure use him.
  • Not a lot has gone right in the bullpen.  What was supposed to be a ‘Super Pen’ has been decidedly average.  While both Aaron Crow and Tim Collins have been tagged for some runs, both have had some really outstanding outings as well.  Maybe the biggest positive of the entire pen has been Collins’ 12 strikeouts to just 1 walk in his first 8.2 innings of work.  With the injuries to Soria and Holland, the deep pen is no a bit shallow and being able to rely on Collins and Crow (who has allowed 5 hits in 8 innings) is a nice fallback.

I know, some of this is reaching for sunshine.  Perhaps this column should have been used to take  some shots at Yost (who should just pick a batting order and let the guys settle in – this team is thinking too much, give them at least one less thing to think about!) or Moore or Glass or the coaching staff or just about anyone.  We could truly panic and call for Johnny Giavotella, Nate Adcock and whomever else is someone different than Jason Bourgeois, but it is just a fraction too early.  Not by much, mind you, but a week or two weeks too soon.

There are some positives and some really bad luck (entering Sunday’s game, Alex Gordon had a BABIP of .235, Hosmer just .163).   The Royals have played horrific ball, but they don’t look like a team that should be this bad.   This 3-12 start almost certainly means that Kansas City won’t win the division this season, but it does not doom them to laughingstock…at least not quite yet.

xxx

 

Article titles are overrated, don’t you think?

A sixth straight loss at home and a third straight game where the Royals had runners on base in the bottom of the ninth with a chance to extend or even win the game.  As I said on Monday, almost every team losses five out of six at some point and even three straight at home, but I am not convinced that every team is going to lose eight out of nine and six straight at home.  I could be wrong, probably am, and certainly the losing is exacerbated by it coming at the beginning of the season.  

The Royals were hoping for big crowds this year and, from a public relations standpoint, this losing streak could not come at a worse time.   The fans will flock back to Kaufmann when (if) the winning starts, but it will take a lot of wins for the pre-season excitement felt throughout the Royals’ fandom to be rekindled.   That’s a shame.

As for last night’s six straight loss, two divergent sources offered up some pretty good commentary on the night.  Jeff Zimmerman at Royals Review broke down the bottom of the seventh inning and Lee Judge, who decided not to take a jab at stats, bloggers and anyone who has not been paid to play baseball, and instead offered up a decent rundown of the loss as well.  

I will chime in with a few notes as well:

Ned Yost had an awful night as manager.  Virtually every decision he made blew up.  While I am not a huge Yost fan, he had truly terrible luck last night.   While it is sometimes hard to determine who is actually to blame (player, coach, manager or just plain good baseball by the other team), in the end it all falls on the manager.   Bad luck or bad managing, you can call last night either or both, but no manager survives a whole lot of games like last night.

On back to back at-bats, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder beat defensive shifts for singles.  Without the shift, probably both of those balls are outs and no runs score.  Now, the best defensive team in baseball the past five years has been the Tampa Bay Rays and they probably shift defensively more than any team, so there is obvious value in shifting.  That said, if your pitchers don’t pitch to the shift then you lose the advantage.  I don’t know, but it is hard for me to believe that with Alcides Escobar playing on the right field side of second that Ned Yost wanted Jose Mijares to throw a pitch outside to Prince Fielder.

Obviously, teams shift to some extent on almost every hitter and sometimes with every pitch, but the dramatic defensive shifts are what gets Joe Maddon a ton of credit and Ned Yost, at least for now, a ton of criticism.   In my tortured mind, it would seem that if you believe that you have a great bullpen and good defense (which I think the Royals do believe) then you would shift less dramatically.   Hindsight is 20-20 and there are certainly games in the past that Kansas City has likely won in no small part due to a dramatic defensive shift against a good hitter, but last night the Royals probably win by just playing straight up defense.

Also of note last night, Alex Gordon was caught stealing third.  It was a very good play by the Detroit battery of Gerald Laird and Max Scherzer.   Laird made the call for the Tiger pitcher to throw the second and caught Gordon leaving early.   As I said above, sometimes the other team just makes good plays and I am inclined to believe that was the case here.

However….

Why are the Royals obsessed with stealing third base?   I am going strictly from memory here, but I believe Kansas City has stolen third three times this year and been caught (or picked off second) at least three times.   Both of those numbers might be higher, but I know neither is lower.   Three for six doesn’t get it done when it comes to stealing third and the sheer number of attempts tells us that it is a strategic decision on Yost’s part to steal third often.

The general theory would be that if a runner gets to third, he can score on any hit, most fly balls to the outfield, a portion of ground balls and, of course, a wild pitch.   That all makes some sense, of course, except this Royals team, while it has not shown it, is generally expected to hit.   If you have a team that you expect to hit and score runs, then why risk giving away outs at third base?

Keep in mind, we are not just talking about last night, the Royals came out of the gate stealing third base.   It is easy to justify trying to manufacture a run when you have scored just one in two straight games, but Ned Yost came out hell bent on stealing third and bunting from day one.  On day one of the season, everyone in baseball assumed the Royals could and would hit and score runs.   Despite this, Yost insists on ‘being aggressive’, which thus far has translated into less runs and more outs.

Last night, Gordon may well have been running on his own, but it was done based upon the club’s philosophy of running the bases.    Sure, Eric Hosmer is in a ridiculous slump, but I still like the odds of him singling in Gordon from second as opposed to risking making an out trying to steal third.  Heck, Yuniesky Betancourt has been known to run into a baseball and drive it on occasion (actually fairly often thus far).  I like my chances there (and you know I’m no Yuni-fan) better than risking the out.

Truthfully, right now, the Royals are a team full of players trying too hard and managed by a manager who is trying to impact the game too much.   Pick a batting order and a second baseman, Ned, and just let it be.   Take the extra base on hits, but put a premium on not making outs on the bases.   Aggressive baserunning has translated into reckless baserunning on this team.   For now, pull back the reins a bit and let your hitters hit.

If you believe you are a good offensive team, the runs will come without handfuls of stolen bases and sacrifice bunts.  Oh, and by the way, Eric Hosmer may never have bunted in his life.   Slump or not, he should not be trying to do so last night.

The season is far from over and many teams over the years have overcome starts just like this to have good seasons.  With every mistake laden loss, however, the situation gets a little closer to desperation.   As a group, the Royals are already playing and managing with a certain sense of desperation:  that’s no way to play this game.

xxx

 

 

 

 

The dust and, hopefully, the emotions have settled from a demoralizing sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians.   I tire of the constant ‘baseball is a long season’, the Royals have not yet played the equivalent of one NFL football game kind of talk, but there is truth to it.   Every team will go through a stretch where they lose six of nine games.   Every team will be swept at some point this season and a fair portion of teams will get swept at home.   Yes, it is important to remember all of that.

Still….

FRIDAY

The Kansas City Royals will play somewhere around 1,460 innings this year and might well have played the single worst one of the bunch at the worst possible time from a public relations standpoint.   In front of an emotional packed house, Luke Hochevar could not locate the right parts of the strike zone, Yuniesky Betancourt could not reach a ground ball and Jarrod Dyson could not find a deep fly ball.   Boom, 7-0 in the top half of the first inning of the first home game of the year.

If either Betancourt or Dyson make a play, the Royals get out of the first down 2-0 or 3-0.   Given that after Hochevar was smacked on the ankle by a line drive, Everett Teaford came in to pitch four spectacular innings of relief, that could have meant a lot.  Unfortunately, the Royals banged into three double plays on their way to turning 13 baserunners and two wild pitches into just three runs.

SATURDAY

The Royals started out the game by playing three and a half innings of just crappy baseball (that’s a scientific term, by the way) and then followed it up with some inspired play that turned a 9-2 deficit into a 9-9 tie.  The Royals lost when their best reliever, Greg Holland, surrendered two singles and a wind aided double that Jarrod Dyson (who did not have a good two games in the field) just could not quite reach.   That one hurt, folks.

Of course, the news of Saturday really was the two bench clearing brouhahas that netted the Indians three ejections, the Royals some badly needed adrenaline and spawned a Twitter war that eventually included John Rocker and Chris Perez (two great minds at work there).  

Hey, I don’t mind Shin-Soo Choo jawing at Jonathan Sanchez after being hit.  It was Sanchez who obliterated Choo’s season by hitting him last year.  Sure, it was not intentional and yeah, Choo overreacted, but I get it.   Hell, Al Cowens once charged Ed Farmer after grounding out for similar reasons.    I also don’t mind Mike Moustakas jawing at Jennmar Gomez after the retaliatory beanball.

What I do mind, however, is a career .232 hitter in Jack Hannahan injecting himself squarely into the middle of both situations.  Obviously someone did something bad to Jack prior to the game as he was in the middle of both jawing sessions immediately and with great fervor.   It might well be that Hannahan was doing his job as a good veteran and upholding all the unwritten rules of baseball: notably, standing up for your teammate and then smacking down a young player running his mouth.  I freaking hate baseball’s unwritten rules, mainly because the enforcers of said rules are usually bad ballplayers with .232 career averages like Jack Hannahan.

SUNDAY

A bad call at first that should have ended the third inning, coupled with a missed foul ball by Eric Hosmer, turned into a six run debacle for the Royals.  That was followed by three more two out runs in the fifth and the next thing you know, Mitch Maier is pitching.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ROTATION

but you knew that already…

The Royals scored 18 runs in a three game series at home and were basically blown out of two of those games and it all really comes down to starting pitching.   After a dynamic first time through the rotation, the Royals starters have dug deep and early holes for their team the second time through.

We will give Bruce Chen a pass here as he was hardly great in Oakland, but did get through five innings allowing three runs:  that’s far away the best second start performance.   Since then, Hochevar, Sanchez and Mendoza combined to throw 10.2 innings and allowed 24 hits, 17 earned runs (21 total), 9 walks and logged just 5 strikeouts.   That required the bullpen to throw another 17.1 innings in which they were tagged for 11 more runs. 

Now, we can pick and choose, take out the performance of Tim Collins and Louis Coleman and knock 7 runs off that bullpen total without breaking a sweat.   All the really does, however, is point out that when you go to the bullpen before the fifth inning for three straight games (and before the sixth in four straight), a manager is eventually going to find a guy who doesn’t have it that particular day.  If a good reliever is effective three times out of four and Ned Yost has to use 11 relief appearances in 3 days…well, you do the math.

The starting five is neither as good as they were in the first five games or as bad as they have been the last four  (I mean, they can’t be THAT bad, right?  RIGHT?!).   The strain of one very average start and three bad ones strung together is very apparent, however, and could not have come at a worse time for a young team trying to get off to a quick start. 

ONE YEAR IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER

Not a big fan of the ‘the Royals got off to good starts in past years and ended up with bad records so this isn’t that bad’ school of thought.  I will take ten years of good starts and you can take ten years of bad starts and I bet I end up with a better overall record than you do.

The 2012 Royals bear little resemblance to the April 2011 Kansas City squad and this young group was fired up and confident entering the season.   Now, they have been swept at home and lost the Oakland series in a gut wrenching and rather historical fashion.   Alex Gordon is hitting .118 and Eric Hosmer has swung for the fences all the way to a .216 start.

You can point to defensive miscues in each of the last four losses that have contributed mightily to the team’s downfall and baserunning errors before that which hurt the team as well.  This is a young team making mistakes and not finding a way to overcome them.   This is a team that is not hitting well when they pitch well and not pitching well when they do score runs.

It is just nine games into a 162 game grind.  Five point five percent of the season is gone.   Halfway through the fourth quarter of the first NFL game of the season.   Just past first stage separation on a journey to the moon.  Two-thirds of the way through the appetizer on a date (well before you figure out she’s weird and not even close to noticing that glob of eye shadow in the corner of her eye that will preoccupy and annoy you the rest of the night).

We get all that.   Even the most reactionary Royal fan gets that.  This is a young team from an organization that has no recent success to fall back on in hard times.  How many losses, misplays and flat out bad luck (I’m looking at you and your dink hits Shelley Duncan) can they absorb before all the swagger is gone?  

Yeah, it’s early, but this team could ‘it’s just one game’ itself into being ten games under .500 before the end of April.   Something good needs to happen to the Kansas City Royals and it needs to happen soon.   

Something good like Danny Duffy out-dueling Justin Verlander.

50-50-62

We talked about the 50 wins, 50 losses, 62 games that are up for grabs principal last Thursday.  I am trying to keep track of which games land in which category, but it is, of course, quite subjective.   For the record, Saturday’s extra inning loss certainly goes in the ’62′ column and, despite the end result of blow outs, I am tempted to put Friday and Sunday’s losses into the ’62′ as well.   Both of those games really turned on a missed defensive play (not to mention a bad call) which the Royals were unable to overcome.   That is where I will put them for now, pending a good argument to move one or both.

xxx

 

Two weeks ago, I think the Royals’ community would have unamiously accepted a 3-3 start to the season.   That is what good teams do:   play .500 ball on the road and take care of business at home, right?  As ugly as yesterday’s 12 inning loss to Oakland was, Kansas City accomplished step one of that theory.    Sure, you hate to lose a game like that, but it is, after all ‘just one game’.

Except ‘just one game’ begins to add up after while.

I am not sure that Denny Matthews came up with this theory, but he refers to it from time to time and I think it makes some sense.   Denny will say that every baseball team plays 50 games that they win no matter what, 50 games that they will lose no matter what and the determination of a team’s season is what they do with the remaining 62 contests.

Using that theory, I think it is safe to say that the season opener against Jared Weaver was one of those 50 that the Royals were just plain going to lose.   The following two games, in my opinion, would both fall into the category of the 50 that the Royals were destined to win, ditto for the 3-0 rain shortened game on Tuesday night.  However, yesterday’s debacle and Monday’s 1-0 loss to Tom Milone have to fall into the critical 62 game column.   There, after just six games, the Royals are 0-2.

Let’s touch very briefly on Monday once more (because a little salt goes well with that open wound from yesterday afternoon).   Tom Milone is a promising young pitcher, don’t get me wrong.  If you pull up his minor league resume, you will be impressed.   However, one thing pops out when you do so is that Milone is something of a strikeout pitcher.   Two years ago in AA, Milone struck out 155 batters in 158 innings and then followed that up last year in AAA by striking out 155 in 148 innings.

So, when Milone throws eight shutout innings without striking out a single Royal, I have to think that is a missed opportunity.   Especially when the Royals ran into three outs on the bases that night:  two in a mind boggling inning in which Milone walked two batters and still needed just TEN pitches to get through the inning.  Yeah, let’s put that as a loss in the 62-game-decide-your-season column.

Then along came yesterday and our good friend Jonathan Broxton.

I raved about Broxton’s Sunday appearance in Anaheim on Monday.  His velocity was up, his slider was unhittable and certainly Jonathan’s confidence had to be high.    After the Royals scored in the top of the 12th thanks to a Billy Butler double and some smartly aggressive baserunning, my confidence was high as well.

Enter Broxton to save the game in the bottom of the 12th.   While his velocity was not consistently as high as it was on Sunday, he still greeted Daric Barton with a pair of 94 mph fastballs, got him to foul off a slider, showed him a 98 mph offering out of the zone, missed with a slider and then got Barton looking with 95 mph heat.   Good start, all is well.

Then the unthinkable occurred:  an Alcides Escobar error.   Okay, it happens.  Ozzie Smith made errors, you know.  Nobody on and Escobar botches Seth Smith’s weak offering at an 0-1 slider.  No big deal, Broxton.   It’s not like Escobar isn’t going to make that up to you in spades as the season goes on.   Except it must have been a big deal to Jonathan Broxton.

I mentioned that Broxton threw a slider (the third of his appearance) to Smith.   That is noteworthy because Broxton would only throw one slider the rest of the inning.   Four straight fastballs to Jemile Weeks for balls and, to be clear, they were not even that fast.   All four whistled in at 92 or 93 mph:  well below what Broxton was throwing in his dominant outing on Sunday.   At that point, you have to start to wonder what is going on and maybe, just maybe, Aaron Crow might be an option.

Eric Sogard enters the batter’s box and Broxton pumps the velocity up a little: seven straight fastballs between 94 and 96 mph.  Sogard never swings the bat and walks when Broxton misses with a 94 mph 3-2 fastball.  Okay, it is officially dicey at this point.   Bases are loaded, one out and Broxton has thrown 8 of his last 10 fastballs out of the strike zone.

Now, we all know the new improved rules of baseball demand that once you insert your closer, you are duty bound to live and die with him.  I hate the rule.  I hated it last year when Joakim Soria was struggling and I hate it even more when the Royals’ closer may or may not be the best arm in the bullpen.   Still, I have to admit that I don’t pull Broxton here, either.

Coco Crisp comes up, takes a 94 mph fastball for a strike, fouls off a 95 mph offering and then takes a 96 mph four seamer for a ball.   Okay folks, here it comes, the last slider of the day.  Crisp hacks at an 89 mph slider and hits a bouncer to second where the only play is at first for the second out and the tying run scores.  Hey, on another day, Crisp hits the ball to Betancourt’s right instead of his left and the Royals turn a game ending double play.   I hate the saying more often than not, but in this case, well, that’s baseball.

Now, runners on second and third, two outs and the game is tied.  Disappointing, yes.  Devastating, no.  Get the third out and let’s play inning number thirteen.

Yeonis Cespedes is up.  Yeonis Cespedes will swing and generally miss anything that breaks at all.  Hell, pretty sure he might swing and miss at Nick’s slider or Craig’s split-fingered fastball.   Feels like a slider here, doesn’t it?  Nope, Broxton throws a 95 mph fastball and hits Cespedes.   Hits him with the first pitch.   Hits a guy who would likely jump out of his shoes to swing big at something on the outer half or even something over his head.

Now, Broxton is 24 pitches into this inning, having walked two guys, hit another and forgotten that he actually has a second pitch.  I know Aaron Crow sometimes struggles with his control, but don’t you have to give him a shot here?  

Here is where I freely admit that in all the second guessing that the game of baseball was virtually designed to create, managers get absolutely and unfairly hammered for changing pitchers too late or too soon or too often or not often enough.   Hindsight is painfully obvious in baseball and quite honestly, how often do you see a pitcher hit two guys in a row?

One thing that does seem pretty common is for a pitcher to struggle to throw a strike after hitting a batter, however, and Broxton had not exactly been hammering the zone previously.   This was not fluke, Broxton was drowning out there and was treading into deep water pitch count wise.    I know, 24 pitches is not that many, but it is a lot for one inning and a big number for specialized one inning guys.

Bam! A 97 mph four seam fastball that The Flash could not have avoided and the winning run comes in on a hit batter.   End of game, end of story and the Royals are now 0-2 in the ‘season deciding column’.

A 3-3 road trip is good and probably we might have entered panic mode too soon, but when you have used the ‘it’s only one game’ TWICE in the first six games, I have to admit being a little concerned.   Young teams have a tendency to give away games, but they cannot afford to do so a third of the time.

If you want to be an aggressive baserunning team, do it, but do so with some intelligence.   If you have a dominant bullpen then use it and not just in the traditional baseball fashion.   Losses happen.  The Royals are not going to go 62-0 in the season deciders.   Young teams give away games.

Playing at home, the young Royals need to take some of the games back.

xxx