My first FanPost. Let's see how this goes.
Today the Royals are coming off their first winning May since 2000 and their winningest May since the 1990's. And yet they sit at 21-28, in 4th place 7 games off the White Sox. Can the Royals make a push? Can the Royals even get back to .500? That 12 game losing streak put us in a hole. Now the question is how to climb out.
I touched on this a little in a comment yesterday in the postgame. The next 3 weeks the Royals face a schedule that has them playing 15 games against teams with records at .500 or worse as of right now. If the Royals are going to get to .500 again this season this is the stretch to make up most of that ground. They are 7 games below .500 right now, but against this slate if they can't win at least 11-13 games the chance of getting to .500 shrinks considerably. Just treading water during this slate (8-10 wins) probably means the Royals are headed to another 70-74 win campaign. Anything less than 8 wins would probably bury them for the season. Anything more than 13 wins and they may well be in first or second place at the end of this stretch. These games will tell us a lot about "the Process" as well. If we are turning into a contender we should be able to handle these sub .500 teams. If we aren't, well, "the Process" will have to shoulder that blame.
The next critical stretch of games comes right after the All Star break. 17 games in 17 days, starting with a ten game homestand with the White Sox, Mariners for 4, and Twins, then the Angels on the road and another 4 with the Mariners, this time in Seattle. If the Royals are hovering around .500 by this time, they could get 3-4 games above the mark with a strong run here. Again, this stretch features 11 games against teams that are below .500 right now. Anything less than 9 wins during this stretch probably ends any hope of finishing at .500. Anything above 12 wins probably will have the Royals at or near the top of the division. Either way, the Royals need 10 or 11 wins during this stretch to have a shot at the 80 win mark. If they falter during that first stretch, this is another chance to get back to .500, but they would probably end up needing to play .700 ball during this stretch if they don't capitalize on that early June schedule. Again, this stretch will tell us what direction we are headed at the major league level. We have a pretty long stretch here with sub .500 teams. Those are games we have to rip through if we are ever going to be a contender.
The final stretch is the 16 game set that ends the season. If the Royals are in the hunt by this time they will have a chance to control their own destiny with home games against the White Sox and Indians, a trip to Detroit for 4, a stop in Cleveland and then wrapping up the season in Kansas City with the Tigers. If the Royals are within 3-4 games of the division when this set starts, they have control of their own destiny because, other than the White Sox, they have enough games to make up ground on either the Tigers or Indians during this final push. I don't really think the Royals will be close enough down the stretch to make a run during these final two and a half weeks, but it sure would be fun if they played some meaningful baseball after the middle of August for the first time in my adult life.
So that's 51 games during those three stretches. I predict the Royals win 29 of those games. What do you think?