Monthly splits are a dangerous toy, an annoyance to some. That a player is good in May and bad in June is taking liberties with arbitrary start and end dates. I use them sometimes, as they are a quick tool to get a snapshot of an approximate period of time. In the end, however, turning the calendar from April 30th to May 1st should really mean very little to a player or a team. Yet, here we are, greeting May once more and hoping, once more, that the Royals don’t go into the tank this month.
Last year, the Royals were 14-12 on May 1st and proceed to go 12-17 that month. They were 14-10 in April of 2013 and imploded for an 8-20 month of May. Kansas City actually posted a winning May in 2012, albeit on the heels of a 6-15 start to the season. In 2011, however, the Royals turned a 14-12 start into another one of ‘those’ years by going 10-17 in May (and 9-18 in June). You can’t blame May for 2010, as the team did not post a winning month the entire season, but for the record they were 12-17 that year in May. A familiar refrain for 2009: two games over .500 heading into the month and then just a 12-17 mark for May. Remember when the Royals went 18-8 in September of 2008? They were 10-19 in May. The Royals were not good in Alex Gordon’s rookie year of 2007, going 8-18 in April, but holding form to flounder through an 11-17 May.
Let’s face it, the Kansas City Royals spent many of those season losing lots of games in many a month, but it is a little freakish that in four of the last six seasons they have entered May with a winning record and never been better than five games under .500 for the month of May. One winning May in the time span of Alex Gordon’s career? Weird….and certainly more the result of the first and last day of May encompassing a period of time where a team that has been over .500 just twice in that timeframe played true to form than some pattern of inability to function in a month that begins with a big communist holiday.
While extremely encouraged and excited by Kansas City’s 15-7 start, let’s all note that Houston – HOUSTON I TELL YA! – has the same record. To think that the Royals are immune this year to the usual crash and burn May is foolish. That said, I do not believe the 2015 Kansas City Royals are going to fall victim to the May swoon. Here’s why:
- Greg Holland will be back and he’s pretty good. All accounts of Holland’s time of the disabled list seem to lean towards the Royals being cautious with a minor injury. With a deep bullpen, that was smart (would this organization been as saavy even as recently as two years ago?). Having Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera, et.al. makes it easier to be smart, but still.
- Luke Hochevar: let’s dream a little. Many are eager for Hochevar to return, but we’ll need to dream some as Luke has walked seven and struck out six in seven innings for Omaha this year. Still, it is one more bullet to add to an already loaded weapon. Should Hochevar return and be effective, it is one more ‘new’ arm to keep the bullpen from being worn down.
- Danny Duffy. Last night, we saw how good Duffy can be and, frankly, it was not like he was 100% on his game. Yes, Edinson Volquez had a great April and Yordano Ventura throws all the fire, but Duffy might just end up being the Royals’ best starter this season. A string of strong outings from Duffy during the month would go a long way towards avoiding any major losing streak.
- The Rotation. They can’t be this bad all season, right? RIGHT? Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie are never going to be great, but they are both better pitchers than what they showed for most of April. The suspensions of Volquez and Ventura had a nice effect of splitting Vargas and Guthrie up in the rotation sequence, which will help the bullpen from having to throw four plus innings two nights in a row if nothing else.
- All the Offense. The bats were something in April. Heck, even Omar Infante got a little hot towards the end of the month. They won’t all stay hot (I mean, they can if they want) for another month, but it would be shocking if they all went cold at once and for a long period of time. The new and improved Mike Moustaskas and better than expected Kendrys Morales make me all warm and giggly inside. Lost in all the glitzy numbers is the fact that this team consistently strings together good at-bats. I will delve into pitches and swing zones when I have more time, but this group seems to have a much better approach at the plate. The BABIP fairy loves a good approach at the plate.
May swoon? Let’s hope not.