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With just 38 games left in the regular season, the Royals find themselves eight and one-half games behind Detroit and six and one-half out of the Wild Card. You officially are allowed to slap anyone who says 'there's still plenty of time'.
Losers of six of their last eight, my highly scientific analysis of the situation indicates that Kansas City likely needs to win 13 of their next 16 games (all but one against teams with losing records) to realistically maintain any shot at the post-season. It breaks down like this:
- Chicago, Washington, Tampa, Minnesota, Toronto, Seattle: 13-3
- Detroit (6 times), Cleveland (6 times): 7-5
- Texas, Seattle, Chicago: 7-3
That would get the boys to 91-71, which may or may not be enough to secure a wild card berth, but would definitely hold our interest all the way through September 29th.
Jeremy Guthrie trudges to the mound tonight for the Royals. Since throwing a four hit complete game shutout on August 5th, Jeremy has allowed 23 hits in his last two starts spanning 13 innings. He has been tagged for nine runs during that time and struck out just seven. The strikeout rate is an unfortunate return to Guthrie-ism after a nice five start run that saw him strike out 23 in 27 innings. For better or worse, irrelevant or not, Jeremy is likely to get a decision tonight as he has had ONE no-decision since the beginning of June. What does he think this is? 1973?
The only marginally interested White Sox will send rookie Andre Rienzo to the hill. In four major league starts, he has gone six innings or more three times and generally pitched alright. He has manged just 16 strikeouts in 24 major league innings after a minor league career that saw him strike out nearly a batter per inning all the way up the ladder. His fastball sits in the low nineties and Rienzo offers a cutter, curve and change as well.
Look for Mike Moustakas to return tonight, getting just his second start in the last nine games. The Royals could certainly use his .306/.362/.506 post-break triple slash back in what has routinely been a disgustingly putrid offensive lineup.
I do not believe you can slice this game tonight as anything but a must-win. A playoff contender that cannot take at least two of three from the White Sox at home is not really a contender at all.