Well, the Royals had one genuinely excellent twenty-game stretch this season, and that's really more than we can say about any recent year. Also, for what it's worth (a great deal of schadenfreude, if you're like me), your Kansas City Royals start tonight's action with a better record than the New York Yankees. Yes, that's really true, and it's really August 9th. That's how hard we've been ballin', lately, folks. The Royals have been so good that they can almost see the competition for the second wild card with a telescope!
On to the Royals' Pitchers Ups and Downs for the first week of August:
James Shields - SP -
Jeff Zimmerman already did an extensive breakdown of what's up with Big Game James, so I'll be brief: Shields is a really good pitcher when he's right, and he hasn't looked right for about a month now. While the results haven't always been bad, his performance has dipped considerably off his early season pace.
Ervin Santana - SP -
Bounced back from a relative down stretch to pull his ERA back under 3. Santana continues to strand a fortuitous amount of runners, and he's running more than half a run below his FIP and xFIP, but it's worth pointing out that Captain Regression might not hit him until next year.
Wade Davis - SP -
His two bad starts since we last met--eight runs to the Yankees, eight outs versus Baltimore--cancel out his decent performance against the White Sox and his 5 K start against the Mets. If we're being honest with ourselves here, neither "good" start was much to crow about.
Jeremy Guthrie - SP -
Well, who's been one of the worst starters in the league when it comes to missing bats? I'll take it. #embracetheluck
Luis Mendoza - SP -
Would get two down arrows if I used a multi-arrow scoring system. Mendoza got hammered so badly that he got dropped from the rotation in favor of a (once again) resurgent Bruce Chen. It takes a special stretch of suckage to make Wade Davis look competent, and Mendoza really is in the midst of one: he's given up fifteen runs in eleven and two-thirds innings since the beginning of July.
Finally got DFA'd, so here's a clip from Dr. Strangelove.
Louis Coleman - RP -
Still hasn't allowed a run in sixteen-plus innings, sporting a cool 19:2 K:BB ratio. Yeah, so, we'll really miss you, J.C. Hopefully whoever's the GM this off-season (okay, Dayton Moore, obviously, but I'm optimistic) will think to move some of this ridiculous bullpen depth for more people who swing bats and, you know, hit the ball.
Collins finally righted the ship a bit in late July, and his K rate is back above 9 after he blew away all three hitters faced against the Twins.
Aaron Crow - RP -
Crow cooled off a bit, but remains a useful option. His only run allowed in the last three weeks was against the Mets. His K rate is still in the good, not great zone, and his walk rate's a little high considering that, but he misses enough bats and limits the longball pretty well, so he's remained effective. The trend of using him for less than an inning his contined, though -- 44 appearances, 36.2 IP through August 8th.
Kelvin Herrera - RP -
Herrera's still hit or miss, but his outings in the Mets series, including getting stretched out to three scoreless innings, were encouraging. He's still too much of a tightrope to be the first out of the 'pen in the 7th or 8th, but in my totally subjective opinion, his stuff his looked sharper recently. I'm not going to say he's turning a corner, though, because every time I say that, he gives up a home run.
Odds favor the argument that he isn't a guy to give up on, though, because I very much doubt Herrera will give up 9 dingers over another 40 IP stretch anytime soon.
Bruce Chen - RP -
This is pretty much how things always go with Bruce Chen, provided he's able to work his way into a team's good graces. Of course, he always has been able to do that, somehow, despite possessing stuff closer to that of a beer league softball pitcher than anything Cliff Lee-esque. When there are no expectations for Bruce Chen, he fools enough of the hitters enough of the time to be a mild plus. When Chen is relied upon, even as a middle rotation starter, he gets bombed. The cycle appears to have started again, as Chen's pitched quite well since re-entering the rotation.
Greg Holland - RP -
70 Ks in 44 IPs. Gave up a run against Baltimore because he felt bad for those guys with bats who he's always making look silly. I've elected him President of my Fantasy Team and Chancellor of the Ballin' Society, and I'd like to give a big shout out to my dumb-as-paint friend who dropped him after the first two weeks of the season. Greg Holland rules, and my friend doesn't.
Luke Hochevar - RP -
Still pitching well, still Luke Hochevar. Kinda in mourning for the fact that he wasn't moved at the trade deadline, just because it feels like whatever success Luke attains as a short reliever will be negligible or fleeting in the long run.
Welcome back to the bigs!