Because of course he does.
Had I told you back in March that the Royals would head to Seattle, fresh off a blow out loss at home to Boston and would be sending Joe Blanton to the mound to face Felix Hernandez, I am pretty sure your thoughts would have been ‘what a freaking mess 2015 is going to be.’ Let’s face it, after throwing 230 innings in 2007, Blanton has worked diligently towards pitching himself right out of baseball. At age 33 in 2013, Blanton fashioned a 6.04 earned run average and while we scoff at pitcher won-loss records, went 2-14. Listen, it is hard to go 2 and 14.
Enter 2015, when Blanton was just another of Dayton Moore’s add-ons: a low cost insurance policy in the unlikely event that the Royals would need three extra starters at the same time. I saw him pitch in Omaha early in the year and he looked like Joe Blanton. With nine major league seasons under his belt, Blanton simply outsmarted younger opponents, but my uneducated eye offered no real hope that Joe has much to offer a team hell-bent on getting back to the World Series.
Now, 26 innings later with an ERA of 1.73 and an 8/1 strikeout to walk ratio, I simply shake my head and smile. Of course Blanton goes six innings and allows one run while the Royals touch up King Felix for four runs, that’s just how it goes for the Kansas City Royals and Dayton Moore.
Chris Young has more starts now than Danny Duffy or Jason Vargas and has been better (even with the weekend blowout) than we could have realistically expected either to have been. Blanton has given the Royals 26 more good innings than I thought he would. Ryan Madson is second in innings pitched for the relief corp and has virtually identical numbers to Kelvin Herrera. While Edinson Volquez does not fit into the bargain bin class as the aforementioned three, he leads the staff in innings pitched and appears to be next in the line of starters Dayton Moore evaluated (guessed?) correctly on, following in the footsteps of Vargas, Santana and, yes, even Gil Meche.
All that, and Kris Medlen just threw four effective innings in a rehab start in the minors. Who is this Dayton Moore guy?
It is still okay to question Moore and it is even okay to question Ned Yost and some of his strategic moves. That is baseball and it is not ‘freaking out’, it is just discussion. That said, an off-season largely panned by most of us has turned out to be at least a half-season success for Moore. 2015 has thus far not been a case of getting the right twenty-five and sailing through the first three months. The rotation has been shaky at best, with the staff’s supposed ace just a hot mess. The closer has been hurt and so has the right-fielder. Second base? Don’t get me started. Yet the Royals roll on.
Paulo Orlando hits five triples. Young, Blanton and Madson do what they’ve done. Wade Davis, well, he really is better than Greg Holland, so of course he excelled as a fill-in closer. Of course.
Craig touched on it the other day, but way-way back when, I noted that if the Royals simply went 7-6 over each 13 game set (after the 7-0 start) they would get to 90 wins. I came up with that only because the Royals actually went 7-6 in games 8 through 20. After that, they went 7-6 again and then they went exactly 7-6 a third time. The most recently completed 13 game set saw the Royals go 6-7. They, however, are 6-2 in the current 13 game stretch whose ending coincides with the end of the Oakland series this weekend.