Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

Browsing Posts published by Clark Fosler

The best player on the field this World Series was not a Kansas City Royal.  That, my friends, pretty simply sums up why the Giants won and the Royals lost.

You are not supposed to be able to do what Madison Bumgarner did.  Maybe in 1924, but not in 2014. It is not a criticism of the Royals’ players at all.  Bumgarner was the best player on either team and the team with the best player won the World Series.

Last night’s Game Seven really came down to a pretty mundane fourth inning two strike flair off the bat of Michael Morse with Panda Sandoval and Hunter Pence on base, because, well, they were always on base.  It came off one of the Royals’ big three relievers, Kelvin Herrera, who turned in an outstanding performance nonetheless.

Both teams were firmly in their bullpens by then:  a situation generally thought to be an advantage for the Royals.  We just didn’t realize that the Giants had some sort of android named Bumgarner that can throw for apparently days on end.

Once Bumgarner was in, the game really came down to two moments in time.  The first was immediately upon his entrance into the game.

Omar Infante singled and Alcides Escobar came to the plate.  Escobar immediately looked to bunt, but took two pitches for balls (he really had not choice – even Salvador Perez thought those were well out of the zone).   A 2-0 count, with Bumgarner not yet settled in?  I don’t give up an out there.  Escobar remained steadfast in his belief that a bunt was in order, laid one down and moved Infante to second.

After the game, Ned Yost said that Escobar was bunting on this own. Okay, fine, except Yost had two pitches to give whatever sign the Royals have that means ‘cut that the hell out!’.  But anyway…

Nori Aoki followed the bunt by lashing a ball to left.  Baseball is all about second guessing and speculation (see below), but I can pretty much guarantee that Travis Ishikawa does not catch that ball and the game would be tied.  Problem was, Bruce Bochy didn’t start Ishikawa and instead opted for his more defensive minded left-fielder: Juan Perez. You know what happened and you also know that Bruce Bochy has managed a few games in his lifetime.

The Royals only other real chance came with two outs in the ninth.  Up comes Alex Gordon (my GOD, he comes up a lot with two outs in the ninth, doesn’t he?), who had driven in one Royal run and scored the other almost my sheer force of will. Gordon had looked hopeless against Bumgarner the other 4,000 times he had faced him in the World Series, but not here.  A sinking liner to left-center.

I was pretty sure the ball was going to get down, but it was either going to be a clean single or a nice running catch by Blanco.  Gordon would be on first and hope, however small, would still be alive. Except suddenly the ball skips by Blanco and bounces to the wall.  Gordon turns and heads to second and rounds the bag as the ball is fumbled once more.  He will easily make third.  Mike Jirschele has the stop sign up well before Gordon is to the third.  The ball is in cut-off man Brandon Crawford’s glove as Alex hits the bag.

Without question and without debate, stopping Gordon at third makes all the sense in the world.  In that situation, sending him home probably means he is out by 25 feet.  Except…Bumgarner.

Here’s the thing, if Jirschele is giving him the go sign as Gordon is on the way to third, Alex is likely three or four steps past the bag when the ball hits Crawford’s glove.  Sending him is still a likely out.  Chances are, Crawford makes a good throw – even an okay throw is probably good enough – and Posey probably makes the catch and applies the tag.  Even with Gordon further around third than he actually was, he’s still out nine times out of ten.

That said, the Giants had just fumbled the ball twice on that play and Perez’s throw to Crawford nearly short-hopped the Giant shortstop.  Bad plays have a tendency to perpetuate themselves and the very risky move of sending Gordon would have, at minimum caught the Giants by surprise.  Crawford has to make the throw from the outfield, Posey has to catch it and get the tag down.  Nine times out of ten, they’ll get the out easily.

One time out of ten, something happens and Gordon scores.  About the same odds of Perez getting a hit off Madison Bumgarner, in my opinion.

Listen, this is not saying the Royals did anything wrong here.  In fact, they handled that play the right way.  Still, Bumgarner was pitching and let’s face it, taking a stupid, crazy risk with the very final out of the World Series might have been Kansas City’s best shot.

Don’t agonize over it, because there is no right or wrong on that play.  Hell, don’t bemoan Salvador Perez’ swinging at the same pitch out of the strike zone over and over to end the season:  the Royals would not have made it past Oakland without Sal (or been there in the first place).

Have a beer, debate the play with your friends and think about next year.

This year, by the way, was one hell of a ride.

 

One game from disappointment.  Two games from glory.

For the thousandth time, if had told you back in March that the Royals would be at this point, you would have taken it in a heartbeat, right?  Well, here we are.

The Royals’ hopes are pinned to a 23 year old rookie tonight:  probably the exact guy almost all of us want on the mound in a situation like this.  Kansas City has won 16 of the last 19 games started by Yordano Ventura.  He is better at home (2.97 K/BB) than on the road (1.83 K/BB).  He is better at night than during the day.  He has been better in the second half of the season than in the first half of the year.  Let’s face it, Yordano Ventura (next year’s opening day starter) is better than anyone else the Royals could send out to start tonight and I think, he is better than Jake Peavy.

After being bedeviled by double bullpen meltdowns in Games Four and Five, not to mention the nuances of the National League game, Royals’ manager Ned Yost finds himself back in his comfort zone.  You know what the lineup will be and, if all goes well, that we will see Jarrod Dyson come in for Nori Aoki in the sixth or seventh inning.  If all goes well, we will see Kelvin Herrera in inning number seven, Wade Davis for inning number eight and Greg Holland will hopefully get to participate as well.  We know/hope/pray that we won’t see Jayson Nix and, if we do, that we won’t see him hit.  If all goes well….

While it hardly mattered with Madison Bumgarner doing whatever it is he does (I hesitate to call it pitching because that makes it seem human), but Wade Davis was tagged with a run in Game Five.  It was technically unearned, but possibly the best reliever in baseball gave up a shot off the centerfield wall to most likely the worst hitter on the Giants team, so let’s call it what it was: a freaking disaster.

Anyway, what is Davis’ track record after an outing in which he gives up a run?  Well, now that you asked:

  • Davis gave up a run on March 31st, followed that up with a perfect inning with a strikeout.
  • Two runs on April 5th, followed by a no-hit inning with one walk and three strikeouts.
  • Another run on April 23rd, followed by a perfect inning with two strikeouts.
  • One run on June 25th, followed by a perfect inning with two strikeouts.
  • All the way to September 16th before another run was assessed to Davis and he had the audacity to surrender a run the very next day.  That outing, however, was followed by a four appearances in which he allowed no hits, one walk and struck out seven.
  • Davis then was tagged for a run on September 26th, his final regular season appearance, but then pitched a scoreless inning in the Wild Card game.
  • A run was allowed in Game Three against the Angels, followed by two perfect innings (four strikeouts) in Game One with Baltimore.

Basically, I like the odds of Wade Davis being unblemished tonight in Kansas City.  Oh and Kelvin Herrera?  After being tagged for runs in back to back outings on April 9th and 11th, Herrera has not allowed a run in back to back outings since.   I like those odds as well.

You want one final bit of ‘feel good’?  It is virtually guaranteed that Billy Butler will get more at-bats than Jayson Nix tonight.  You couldn’t say that when the Series was in San Francisco.

The Royals really should be in the World Series more often, don’t you think?

Like hopefully many of you, i was able to attend both Games One and Two in Kansas City. A sold out Kaufmann Stadium with the crowd hanging on every pitch was simply out of this world.

The defining moment of Game One, to me, was the bottom of the third inning.  Down 3-0, the Royals managed to put runners on second and third with no one out thanks to a Brandon Crawford error and a Moustakas double.  The Royals then proceeded to swing at SEVEN straight pitches and eight of nine before Lorenzo Cain realized that you don’t have to swing at all the pitches and took four straight balls.  Eric Hosmer, however, swung at the first pitch to end the scoring threat and, truthfully, any real hope that the Royals would make a comeback.

Madison Bumgarner is good, but the Royals helped him out with a swing at everything approach. In Game One, Lorenzo Cain was the only hitter who seemingly had an idea of what to do.

The defining moment of Game Two came early on as well.

After Gregor Blanco (freaking GREGOR BLANCO – you know, the guy who used to be a Royal when we could not beat anyone and we let him go because he wasn’t good enough?  At least that’s what the 24 ounce Miller Lites told me) shocked the crowd with a lead-off home run off Yordano Ventura, the Royals got a lead-off single from Alcides Escobar.   Sadly, after a two pitch Aoki at-bat, Escobar was caught stealing (by roughly one-half of a mile) leaving the Royals with two out and no one on.  However, THAT MAN, Lorenzo Cain doubled on the seventh pitch of his at-bat.  Let’s take a moment and note that Lorenzo Cain is seemingly getting better before our eyes as an all around ballplayer.

Then Eric Hosmer, deciding that swinging at everything is, after all, a bit silly, takes a four pitch walk, bringing Billy Butler to the plate.  Now, Billy tried to hit a three run homer on Jake Peavy’s first offering (an 88 mph cutter), but recalibrated himself and singled sharply on the next offering, another cutter, to tie the game.  I thought that hit was absolutely huge from a mental standpoint for the Royals.  While a one run deficit after one inning is hardly reason to panic, it felt like there was just a bit of ‘here we go again’ rippling through the cosmic strands.  Coming right back to tie the game immediately after two outs had to be a weight off the shoulders of most in the dugout.

Bottom line takeaway from Games One and Two:  anytime  you high five and hug strangers at a sporting event, it is a helluva time.

The lineup for tonight is out and Craig’s suggestion of earlier today was not off by much:

Escobar SS

Gordon LF

Cain CF

Hosmer 1B

Moustakas 3B

Infante 2B

Perez C

Dyson CF

Guthrie P

Just when you think Ned Yost was on auto-pilot, something like this happens.  I don’t hate it, not at all, but it is a pretty bold shake up for a manager who is consistently worried about his players’ collective domes.  Alex Gordon has not had great at-bats as of late, so it will be interesting if the move up gives him a little boost.  Moustakas?  Hey, why not go with the hot hand at this point and ditto for Infante.

Let’s face it, with the Royals putting Moustakas, Infante and Perez in a row, that could be a black hole of suck and free swings at balls that bounce first.  However, that might well be the three players with the biggest hits as of late.  A big hit from just one of those three might be enough for the win.

I expect a quick hook for Guthrie if he struggles, but also have this feeling that Jeremy might well put up some zeroes this evening. I could see Brandon Finnegan and Jason Frasor each getting work to bridge the gap from Guthrie to HDH.  With three games in three days, I have to imagine Yost would prefer to keep from using Herrera and Davis for multiple innings.

Game Three.  Game On.

 

 

Pitching and defense wins championships?  Who knew?

There are a myriad, tangible and intangible, reasons why the Kansas City Royals are in the World Series for the first time in 29 years, but foremost among them is the fact that this team simply caught and converted into outs, well, basically everything that was put in play this post-season.  That may be an exaggeration, but not a huge one.

Defensive metrics are what they are:  way better than when all we had was errors and fielding percentage.  However, about the time we started to really believe in them, along came all the shifting and, at least in this small mind, skewed the numbers again. The metrics love Jarrod Dyson, Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon, they are not as kind to Alcides Escobar.  Take them for what they are worth and, sabremetricians cover your ears, you might have to just trust your eyes.

At least for a small sample size like the post-season, my eyes tell me that the Royals are playing as good a defense as I have seen a team play (and I’m old….and jaded…and pretty certain Cookie Rojas and Freddie Patek were gods).  The opposing batters have eyes, too, and likely not a lot of knowledge of UZR/150.  Are the Royals playing tremendous defense?  Ask Nick Markakis and Steve Pearce.

The second part (or first maybe) of the equation is pitching and, when it comes to the Royals specifically, relief pitching.  Kansas City is tailor made for playoff baseball with all it’s off-days and rest between series.  They can go to Herrera, Davis and Holland for nine outs on Tuesday and ELEVEN more on Wednesday.  They can, quite simply, give the opposing team 18 outs to score, while taking the full 27 to manufacture some runs themselves.  The Royals can do that without even having to use Brandon Finnegan, Jason Frasor and Danny Duffy.

In their eight post-season games, the Royals have gotten one, maybe two, really quality outings by their starting pitcher, but thanks to a dominant bullpen, have outpitched the opposing team.  You do that in the regular season and your bullpen will come apart after a couple of weeks.  You do that in the post-season and you start buying flagpoles.

Some other bits and pieces:

  • Zack Greinke has been part of seven post-season games since demanding a trade from Kansas City.  That’s one less than Alex Gordon.  Greinke has yet to be on a team that gets to the World Series.  Maybe he can demand a trade to a winner this off-season.
  • Darryl Motley was my favorite Royal the last time the team was in the World Series.  His game seven home run remains one of my most vivid Kansas City baseball memories.
  • Count me as one who is glad the Royals are playing the Giants and not the Cardinals.  I am from Nebraska (I have yet, by the way, noticed any difference between natives of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa – I hate to break to you guys who are all about which state/region is better, but we’re all pretty much the same bunch) and don’t have that intense Kansas City versus St. Louis hatred.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I travel a lot and St. Louis is one of my least favorite cities, I mean it’s pretty freaking awful, but as an ‘outsider’ coming to the Series, I just don’t need the KC-St.Louis crap getting in the way of my drinking.
  • We will talk rosters over the weekend – I love to talk rosters – but just how healthy is Yordano Ventura and, more specifically, Danny Duffy?  If Ventura is good to go as a starter and the Royals think they can go to Danny Duffy for multiple innings more than once in a seven game set, they could well drop Tim Collins and add another position player. With National League rules looming in games three and four, Jayson Nix would seem to be far more useful than Collins, IF Duffy is really healthy.

Finally, I did not tweet, not even once during Game Four against the Orioles.  I was not in a great situation to utilize technology (driving a combine with scattered data coverage).  I listened to the game on the radio, just like in the olden days.  To be honest, it seemed right.  Everything seems right when you win.

The baseball world is becoming well acquainted with Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland and rightfully so.  Could those three be one of  the best back of the bullpen combination in history?  That will take more research than time allows today, but certainly in a post-season full of good bullpens (not you, Detroit), I don’t think many would trade those three for anyone else.

That said, last night, the sixth inning belonged to Jason Frasor.  Acquired in mid-July in a not very noteworthy move made at a time when many of us were demanding big moves, Frasor has been around.  Eleven full seasons of ‘being around’.

Frasor debuted in the majors at age twenty-six way back in 2004.  Since then, Jason has made one trip to the minors: a pretty impressive feat for a non-closer type reliever.  He spent most of his eleven year career in Toronto, spread over two stints.  He was traded by the Blue Jays to the White Sox in a deal that involved Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen, then traded by the White Sox back to the Blue Jays a year later.

The right-hander has not been awarded a save since 2010.  He has never made more than $3.7 million in any one season.  He could sit down at the airport bar next to you and you would have no idea who he was.  Well, you might now, but you would not have a month ago.

Six hundred and forty-seven regular season appearances.

After facing 2,620 major league hitters and having struck out more of them than he allowed base hits to, Jason Frasor finally made his first post-season appearance in the Wild Card game against Oakland (a game in which he was awarded the win).   Eleven years and 619 innings worth of being ‘one of the other guys in the bullpen’ before pitching when it really, really mattered.

Now, cry not for Jason Frasor. That is a heck of a gig to be a reliever and made just one shuttle to the minor leagues in eleven years.  Few of us would turn down an 11 year run that yielded $17 million in total salary.  In the baseball world, however, Jason Frasor is just ‘one of the other guys’ and on the Royals he might well be the FIFTH best reliever in the bullpen.  There is a decent chance that somewhere in the excitement of the past month, you might well have forgotten – however momentarily – that Jason Frasor was a member of your Kansas City Royals.

Last night, however, in just the fourth post-season appearance of the 36 year old’s career, Jason Frasor came on in the sixth inning of a tie-game and mowed down the heart of the Oriole order as he bridged the gap between Jeremy Guthrie and the three-headed cyborg monster cerebus inadequately nick-named trio that dominates the later innings on behalf of the Kansas City Royals.

It was a big appearance when it really, really mattered.  A minor move by Dayton Moore back in July that paid off in October. Nice work, Dayton Moore.   Good for you, Jason Frasor, you earned it.

 

The Kansas City Royals have to be wondering what’s so hard about the playoffs?  Six games, six wins.  Nothing to it.

Yesterday was pretty much the Lorenzo Cain show as the centerfielder had four hits and a catch that entailed running basically across the entire outfield to make a tremendous catch.  I am an old guy.  I watched Amos Otis play center and then Willie Wilson and Brian McRae and Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran and, my god, can Lorenzo Cain play the position!

Proof that the Royals just might be an actual team of destiny can be found in that Mike Moustakas, who spent the bulk of 2014 displaying no ability to hit baseballs whatesoever, has four home runs in six games.  I stole this from Sam Mellinger (and the world of data in general), but Moose has never hit four home runs in six games in the major leagues ever.  In the playoffs?  No problem.

Here stand your Kansas City Royals, two games up and coming home to play three. It’s been a long time since we have been in the playoffs, but I am pretty sure that is Position A.

The Royals have gotten to this position by routinely moving what may be the best defensive centerfielder in the game to rightfield in the final three innings of close games…and we all pretty much like it.  They have gotten there playing a second baseman who has not hit in half a season and, by most accounts, can barely throw a ball at this point.  They have won the first two games of this series even though the Royals’ two best starting pitchers have looked more like Odalis Perez (the version that pitched in Kansas City) than front of the rotation playoff starters.

Destiny? I don’t know if I truly believe in that, but this group has some sort of mojo.  That’s right: MOJO.

Now, a two games to none advantage going home is not a lock.  Your 1985 Royals were down two games to none, by the way.  However, winning two games out of the next five seems, dare we say, not that hard.

Rain is in the forecast for Monday.  A lot of rain..and wind..miserable conditions basically. While you want to keep the ball rolling, I don’t think a rainout slows this teams’ roll. In fact, I would not adverse at all. The big three relievers plus Finnegan have worked the last two days and worked hard. Sure, they would be ready to go with the off-day today, but they would be even more ready with two days off.

A rainout would give Ned Yost the option of bringing Shields and Ventura back for games four and five at home, with the World Series on the line. Maybe, like me, you think James Shields looks like a tired pitcher, but I like him to have a good outing on the heels of three so-so ones.

Frankly, at this point, I am not sure it matters who starts, what the weather is or even if Ned finally benches Infante and plays me or Craig instead.

Party on, Ned.

All I write is 25 man roster stories anymore – or so it seems, anyway.  Here’s hoping that in a little over a week, I am going to write another one in preparation for the World Series.

Truthfully, there is little to analyze at this point:  both manager and general manager are – for maybe the first time in this duos’ combined tenure – actually comfortable with this unit.

Pitchers:

  • Shields, Ventura, Guthrie, Vargas, Duffy, Holland, Davis, Herrera, Finnegan, Frasor, Collins

Position Players:

  • Perez, Hosmer, Infante, Escobar, Moustakas, Gordon, Cain, Aoki, Butler, Dyson, Kratz, Colon, Gore, Willingham

Tim Collins’ is in italics as he is likely the only one that might not make the transition from ALDS roster to ALCS roster.  He was a surprise addition before the Angels’ series and surprised us further by appearing in a high leverage situation and, surprisingly, performing well in said situation.  I think he probably comes back again, but a move to a different lefty (Francisely Bueno or Scott Downs) is always a possibility.

A dark horse to the mix might be Liam Hendriks.  With rain sprinkled (get it?) throughout the forecast for this series, the scenario of playing a couple of innings, sitting for two hours and then resuming looms as a real possibility.  Your starter is burned and even if piece together the rest of the game using the bullpen, you might well have a game the next day. At some point, the Royals may opt for innings.   Plus, even in the playoffs, junk innings sometimes come up.  Up or down by eight runs in the seventh, do you really want Ned Yost sending out Finnegan or Herrera?

Now, the Royals like to think too much sometimes, and could bounce off enough walls to think they need TWELVE pitchers.  I doubt they will go there as that means dropping Terrance Gore, your pinch running weapon of choice, or Josh Willingham, the only guy you actually would use to pinch hit for anyone.

They could also consider going with just ten pitchers, given that one of the starters (likely Duffy) will be in the bullpen full-time, and take another bat into the ALCS.  That means, Raul Ibanez or Jayson Nix:  handy to have around if the game goes 13 innings, but only in the sense that someone has to stand in each of the nine positions on the diamond. That scenario also assumes that the Royals are 100% confident that both Duffy and Herrera are completely healthy.

In the end, I believe we will find ourselves with the 25 men listed above and, at this point, that seems just about right.  Yost is comfortable with that group and is almost on autopilot in how to use them – which is not a bad thing.

We know the nine starters and that Gore will pinch-run when the Royals trail or are tied late.  We know Dyson will come on at some point in the last three innings in place of Aoki and that Willingham might pinch hit against a left-handed reliever (or if Gore’s turn comes up in the order).

We know that Herrera might pitch in the sixth if needed and certainly the seventh if the Royals are ahead.  We know that Finnegan will pitch as often as the HDH combo – another good thing.  You can bet on Danny Duffy in extra innings.

Sure, Ned could surprise us and I almost never like Ned surprises, but you can likely guess 95% of every pitching and position player change that is going to be made and, at this point, with this roster, it is going to be hard to argue with very many of them.  It took a long time to get here, but this is a comfortable group being used in mostly logical fashion.

Feels like a real life baseball organization, doesn’t it?

 

I want to play craps with Ned Yost.  Right now, before his luck changes.

Yost went with Vargas too long….and it worked.  He went to a 21 year old rookie as an injury replacement (I would have too, by the way) and it worked.  He has a rightfielder who, best I can tell, has never gotten from point A to point B without a detour to point C (and sometimes D, E and F) and said rightfielder made two run saving catches.  He pitched Tim Collins in the ninth inning of a tied playoff game and it worked!  Hell, in a 2-2 game, Yost used six relievers before handing the ball to his All-Star closer…and it worked.

Roll ‘em, Ned.  Let’s get rich.

Of course, not going to Holland until the Royals were in a save situation is not gambling to Ned.  It is by-the-book baseball 101. I don’t agree with it, because you run the risk of losing a game without using one of your best relievers.  Last night, the book served Yost well.  Damn if it wasn’t nice to have Holland go out and blow the Angels away for the save and a 1-0 series lead.

Even with the win, there is plenty to debate.  Would you have had Terrance Gore try to steal third?  I would have and would have been proved a genius if he had done so before Salvador Perez flied out to center.  Of course, I would have been a goat had Gore been thrown out at third.  I think the odds were in the Royals’ favor on that one, however, and Ned should have rolled the dice and given it a try.  I mean, why not?

Last night, the Royals went 16 straight hitters without getting a baserunner or, for that matter, even hitting a ball square.  They went six innings without a hit.  Their bullpen walked four batters, hit another and none of them scored. They did not bunt once (did they?) and won on a home run.

What the hell is going on here?  I don’t care, I love it.

Not all, of course, was sunshine and roses last night.

Kelvin Herrera left after facing one batter with forearm stiffness. It’s the Royals and we’re conditioned to think the worst and forearm stiffness is often the first indication of UCL issues.  How long can you wait before replacing the designated seventh inning guy on the roster?  Keeping in mind, of course, that if the Royals replace Herrera for this series, he is NOT eligible for the following series.

Does the Herrera injury make Danny Duffy a full-time reliever for this series and hence Jeremy Guthrie the Game Four starter? That would seem the likely plan of action.  After all, even if the Royals decide to replace Herrera on the roster, the pitcher they would call up is not a guy you want anywhere near a pressure situation.  A lot depends on just how bad the Royals believe Herrera is hurting, but this is going to be a tough string of decisions.

Also, let’s think about tonight and Yordano Ventura, who has pitched Sunday and Tuesday and not been very good in either outing. Can you bring back Duffy and Finnegan without any rest? If you have to get Ventura early, is Guthrie the call and sort out Monday’s starter later?  (The answer is likely yes on that last one, by the way).

This is playoff baseball.  It is agony and euphoria and tension and happiness all in one big hairy ball of crazy. For reasons unknown, Yost has guided his team through a landmine of debatable tactics to two wins.

Roll the dice, Ned.

The actual 25 man roster for the ALDS is out and, unlike I did earlier, the Royals did NOT forget to add Josh Willingham. Two players not on the active roster for the Oakland game, Jason Vargas and Tim Collins, are on with Jayson Nix and Raul Ibanez not being active for this series.

Vargas is a no-brainer, Collins is interesting. While I assumed that the Royals would go with six relievers, I have to tell you that Tiny Tim was not very high on my personal pecking order for that spot. Frankly, I might have gone with Louis Coleman, but then we are kind of splitting hairs on this one.

When your choices are Downs, Bueno, a couple of Colemans and Liam Hendriks, it is hard to be critical of taking Collins….or any of them. Listen, if this series goes right, we will never see Collins, nor have to debate whether he was the right choice.

Beyond that, I love that Colon is in over Nix and Gore is still active over Ibanez. It makes complete sense…..so what the heck is going on? World upside down!

We have waited 29 years to speculate on playoff rosters, so let’s do it twice in a week.

The Royals can revamp their 25 man roster for the series with the Angels and it really comes down to just a few questions at this point.  We know, for example, that all five starters will be on the roster – well, we think we know anyway.

Jason Vargas wills start Game One with Yordano Ventura and James Shields following.  The Game Four starter, if necessary, is undetermined at this point, but we do know that Danny Duffy will be available out of the pen in this series and is ‘in consideration’ to start a Game Four.  Now, if Duffy does make a relief appearance, the Royals might well opt to trot Jeremy Guthrie out to start the fourth game (the only other option would be Vargas on short rest). They will want to keep their options open and hence, all five starters will be on the twenty-five.

We also know that Greg Holland, Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Finnegan and Jason Frasor will hold down the first five  spots in the bullpen.  It would not surprise me if the Royals opt to carry just one more reliever, probably Scott Downs or Francisely Bueno.  I personally would roll with ten, knowing that Duffy and/or Guthrie would be available for at least the first two games of the series as well. Ned Yost, however, has always, always worried about running out of pitchers, so look for at least the big five plus one reliever to be on the roster.

Not only do you know what the lineup will be, you also know the order in which they will bat.  The starting nine will certainly be joined by Eric Kratz and Jarrod Dyson, giving the Royals 11 position players and 11 pitchers.  Should the premium be placed on being able to pinch run and pinch hit at will over having an extra relief arm, then it pretty easily becomes Christian Colon, Jayson Nix and Terrance Gore filling out the roster.

That group of twenty-five would seem to be the most likely.  It will be interesting to see what the brain trust in blue comes up with.

EDIT: In my haste to push something out this morning, I managed to forget Josh Willingham, who will and should be on the 25. In my world, Nix is out Willingham is in, but I fear that Yost/Moore may opt for Nix over Colon.  Also, they wouldn’t keep Ibanez over Terrance Gore…..would they?

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