Ok, let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Danny Duffy has a tear in his UCL, is out for the season and will need Tommy John surgery. Someday, I swear the Royals will have a string of extraordinary luck. It just has to even out. The weirdest comment about the whole thing comes from an article by Dick Kaegel:
“[Royals Trainer Nick] Kenney said that Duffy has had a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament since 2010, but, like many pitchers, was able to adapt and continue pitching until Sunday.”
Should this be concerning? Is it common for pitchers to have some sort of tear in their UCL? Is it common to have them skip just one start after having a twinge in the elbow? It’s impossible to know but the important discussion should be around whether this could have been prevented or at least mitigated.
On the bright side, the Royals have and will be able to play good baseball and win games without Danny Duffy. He was one of the bright spots and he was clearly the most entertaining pitcher to watch. However, he only plays in less than a fifth of the games and in those he was pitching about half the innings. A single player can only have so much impact on the game, but he was a pretty significant player. On top of all that he was one of my favorite players on the team. I hope we see him compete on the highest level again.
Enough with the negative. There is a lot going on to be happy about right now. I present you with the following list of teams further out from first place than the Kansas City Royals:
Boston Red Sox
Los Angeles Angels
San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres
That’s 12 teams if you’re counting. Sure the Royals have one of the worst records in baseball but that is irrelevant. The only teams the Royals are competing against are the teams in their own division. The goal is to get to the playoffs and right now they are closer to that goal than a whole host of other teams.
The team is finally settling in on what we predicted them to be prior to the season. A decent offensive team with a solid bullpen, defense and a sub par starting rotation. Here are the A.L. ranks for a few categories:
Offense wOBA: 7th
Starter ERA: 12th
Relief ERA: 5th
Oh and just for fun, the Royals have a -2.8 UBR which is a base running stat. The only team worse are the Angels, which are another “aggressive” base running team. Again last night the Royals showed how inept they can be on the bases. It’s costing them runs regularly.
So the Royals have settled into where they should be. They’ve won or tied 7 straight series and are providing entertaining baseball on a regular basis. The 12 game losing streak is well behind them and it’s time to hop back on the bandwagon. They’re starting to show that they just might be able to get themselves into contention and stay there for the better part of the summer.
I’ve been kind of a Ned Yost apologist around here. I don’t think he’s the best manager or the manager I’d hire, but his moves are pretty typical of MLB managers. I’ve also long held that his in-game decision are about 20% or less of his actual job so it’s nearly impossible for me to actually judge his performance. I did however really like his move last night of putting Eric Hosmer in the 2 hole.
In an ideal world, players will take their optimum approach at every plate appearance regardless of where they are placed in the lineup. However in reality the perceptions of what a player needs to do changes based on where he is in the lineup. Ned Yost knows that and tried to take advantage to help Hosmer. The typical thoughts of a player in the 2 hole is that he needs to make contact and move runners. In other words, don’t try to hard. Make contact, get a single and let the 3,4,5 guys do the work. That is essentially just the advice that Eric Hosmer needs to bust out of his slump and putting him second can subtly suggest that.
The summation of all this rambling is that things finally seem to be going right (even when something really bad happens, natch) and last night was a gigantic win. If you’ve stepped away because of The Streak, well come on back. Things just might be getting good again.
– Nick Scott