In search of yet another series win - yes, this is the RUBBER GAME - the Royals send the flowing locks of Luis Mendoza to the mound against the Indians' Justin Masterson.
Masterson is having a very nice season to date, allowing just 80 hits over 102 innings of work and striking out a batter per inning: a rate of over two more strikeouts per nine innings than the past two seasons. He has, however, walked 41 and continues to have some issues versus left-handed batters. A good night for Alex Gordon to come back to life perhaps?
On the continuing to beat a dead horse train of thought: since losing on May 23rd to the Angels by the score of 5-4, the Royals are 9-0 in games in which they scored at least four runs. In that same time frame, Kansas City has scored two runs or less ten times and lost eight of those games.
Against Cleveland this week, they have managed to plate five runs total. All three runs on Tuesday night were outright gifts from Cleveland, as was one of the two on Monday night. The only legitimate run came on a Eric Hosmer Texas League double. The Royals have made a baserunning out in the ninth inning of both games.
Luis Mendoza allowed six earned runs in a four inning start on May 1st and followed that up on May 8th by allowing five runs (three earned). Since then, Mendoza has allowed just 13 earned runs over 40 innings of work.
When pitching on four days rest (as he will be tonight), Mendoza has a 2.12 earned run average. He has done so five times in 2013, spanning 29.2 innings in which he has allowed 30 hits, walked 10 and struck out 19. In six other starts in which Mendoza has had five or more days rest, Luis has a 6.19 ERA over 32 innings in which he allowed 36 hits, 13 walks and 19 strikeouts.
Currently, Mendoza's ERA of 4.08 is one-half a run under his FIP and xFIP. Last season, all three numbers ended up extremely close (4.23, 4.28, 4.36). He is walking hitters at a higher rate this season (9.3% to 8.3%) and Luis' ground ball to fly ball ratio has dropped from 1.92 in 2012 to 1.58. What does is all mean?
Mendoza is Mendoza. He is in 2013 basically what he was in 2012. If you are Mendoza fan, then he is pitching well out of the number five spot in the rotation. If you are not a Mendoza fan, then he has been lucky and is on the brink of a string of bad outings. He is who you thought he was.
Following up on my column of yesterday with regard to trading for Giancarlo Stanton. On reading the comments last night, I have to agree with the general consensus that the Royals likely don't have the pieces to make that or trade - not compared to what some other teams might have to offer. Truthfully, I don't Dayton Moore has the stomach to empty out the farm system to get Stanton and truly go all-in. That said, is there a right-fielder that might logically be acquired and actually improve the team enough to make it worthwhile? Is it Josh Willingham? Mike Morse?
Or maybe we should just keep our eyes on the prize: a series win. Fifth starter for the fifth straight series win to reach .500? Feels like a five run night.