I can't stand the All-Star game, really, but Greg Holland should be an All-Star. My protest of the Dutch Oven's exclusion from the flawless collection of baseball's greatest players known as the Midsummer Classic is to end this introduction really quickly. Shields was robbed too, but I can't think of a stupider nickname for him than "Big Game James."
Your Pitchers Ups and Downs for the week:
James Shields - SP -
Had a stretch of one quality start versus Minnesota sandwiched by two rather crappy starts to shut down the (reasonably) mighty Yankees. More of the seven-inning, one-run ball against pretty good teams, and less of the laboring through five innings against the White Sox would be good. No cause for alarm though, just a very good pitcher going through a minor rough spell. Unfortunately for him, that rough spell, along with stats that no one should care about such as pitcher wins, may have cost Shields a shot at the Midsummer Classic.
Ervin Santana - SP -
As with Shields, Santana's minor rough patch gives him a down arrow because he had set the standard for his performance rather high. While it's probably unrealistic to expect him to keep an ERA under 3 what with the low strand rate, the low-ish BABIP of .250 might be sustainable enough that Santana won't lose too much in the second half. The Royals have a serious decision to make on whether to hold or fold here.
Wade Davis - SP -
Looked good against Oakland, but unfortunately that came on the heels of his miserable start against the Twins and, while he made it through five-plus Wednesday, the results weren't much better against the Yankees. If we're playing "sum up a start in a single sentence," then "grand slam by Lyle Overbay" isn't really the card you want to draw.
Jeremy Guthrie - SP -
Guthrie's ERA has, at last, arrived at comfortably average-to-below average, and yet still below where FIP and xFIP think he'll be. He did rebound from a terrible start on the 21st of June (it's been awhile since we've done a pitchers' Ups and Downs) to post a decent start against Minnesota. He staggered through a start at the K against Cleveland (5 ER in 6.1, but mostly the ballpark's fault), and then looked like Good Guthrie again against the Yankees, scattering seven runners over 6.2 and only allowing a single blemish. The last three starts basically sum up what to expect from Jeremy going forward; not many Ks, a good amount of baserunners, and the odd start where he uses his Mormon Death Stare to keep runs off the board.
Luis Mendoza - SP -
Uh, so that regression in the rotation that was talked about for awhile? Well, it's come home to roost in the form of all five starters getting down arrows for the last three weeks of games. Luckily, Eric Hosmer finally began the offensive resurgence so the Royals are still technically in the race in the second week of July. As for Mendoza, stop me if you've heard this before, but he had one good start and a couple stinkers; one run in six good innings against Atlanta, four runs in four innings against Cleveland, and exiting stage left before the end of the second inning against Oakland.
Bruce Chen - RP -
I'm pretty sure Yost sometimes forgets Chen is on the roster, what with the three and four day layoffs between appearances despite the bullpen having to pick up some slack in the last month or so. Then again, it's hard to make an argument that Chen's pitched well to deserve an expanded role unless that role is "not Wade Davis."
Luke Hochevar - RP -
Didn't record an out in his last appearance, but had been pretty darn good over the past three weeks. Hochevar and Davis, as others have already observed, seem to form the yin-yang of "fringe starter-good reliever." Hochevar as a starter was notorious for underachieving his peripherals, while pitching in a way (frequent big-inning problems, etc.) that left observers totally unsurprised. That sounds a lot like Davis's stat profile and eye test this season, folks. Surprising few people who're familar with the flukiness of relieverdom and the number of failed starters who've done well in relief, Hochevar looks decent out of the 'pen. Chances are, so would Davis!
Greg Holland - RP -
I don't buy into conspiracy theories, or that Holland wasn't selected because the game counts, or any of that. I do buy that Holland's All-Star snub is pretty freaking stupid. He's been a total badass since the first couple weeks of the season, and he's striking out more than three times the batters per nine that Guthrie strikes out. I really don't care that the concept of an All-Star game never gets realized in a particularly smart way, but Holland not making the cut is even dumber than the "this time it counts" ads. Over 15 K/9? We salute you, Greg.
Kelvin Herrera - RP -
Optioned June 25th, yet to see the light of day since.
Aaron Crow - RP -
It's as if someone (George Brett?!) suddenly reminded Aaron Crow to get people out on a regular basis, because his last two weeks of work consisted of 6.2 scoreless innings and 7 Ks against just 2 free passes. Crow's K-Rate rose to eight per nine as a result of this span, which is never a bad thing.
With the low leverage of most of Gutierrez's outings, I'm starting to wonder if I should bother giving him an arrow, or just use this space every two weeks to post a music video with the theme of not really caring. Because really, the Royals doubling down on mop-up men is a pretty weird part of this season (vid NSFW based on langauge by the way).
Tim Collins - RP -
Tiny Tim closed out the month of June (and began July) on a sour note, with five walks and no strikeouts in three outings, two of which were in meltdown territory. As he usually does after a stretch of not being able to find the plate with a roadmap, Collins rebounded with scoreless innings against the A's and Yankees (twice), but his overall line for the past three weeks is pretty ugly. Such is the life of the short reliever.
Louis Coleman - RP -
Welcome back, Louis! Not for nothing, but I'm really not sure why he wasn't with the MLB club in the first place.
First, let me say that since we missed a week due to internet issues at Camp When Small Children Attack, the Ups and Downs were done over a three week period. Thus, if one of the arrows seems out of place due to recent events, it's because these cover a larger sample than usual. Now, le questions for le week:
1. How do you rate the Royals chances at a playoff berth at this stage?
2. On a scale of 1 to a Billion, how happy are you that Hosmer's hitting again? What hitting line (triple slash) do you expect him to reach at the end of the season?
3. Snark aside, Gordon and Perez were decent choices for the Royals all-stars, all things considered. If the Royals sent four players, who would you pick? I'd go with Shields, Gordon, Holland, and Santana.
4. I'm irrationally excited for Pacific Rim because of giant robot-thingies and Guillermo del Toro rocks. Who's with me?
5. With Jeff Francoeur out, who takes over as President of the Nuttapping Society?