Swept at home by the Houston Astros. Don't get me wrong, the 6-0 blanking of the
Evil Empire St. Louis Cardinals sure takes the edge off things, somewhat akin to how punching someone else in the stomach can cure your own vicious hangover (citation needed), but still. We're in year shrifty-five or umpteen of the process, depending on who you ask, and we're told that this is a campaign where the Royals are supposed to be competitive. Does any event of this young-but-coming-of-age-soon season stand out as a better example of the silliness of it all? Maybe Ned Yost admitting he didn't have a plan? Mike Moustakas's entire season? Mark Buehrle getting the win for yet another team that's managed to reload into contention (at least for now) while Kansas City continues to struggle to get over .500?
I don't know, maybe we should all just take a deep breath, step back from the ledge, and think about how much baseball there's still to be played. The Royals are, after all, just 27-30 and tied with Minnesota now. Wait, why is everyone moving back towards the edge now? If it makes anyone feel any better, the Rays aren't winning much either. The hell with it, let's just move on to the Pitch Staff Ups and Downs.
Shields started the year on such a strong kick that he was bound to get a couple of red arrows eventually, and here's another one. While he's hardly dropped off a cliff, the month of May wasn't exactly kind to him. He finished it by giving up six runs to the Toronto Blue Jays, after surrending four runs over six innings to the Angels. His two quality starts since last Ups and Downs were an admittedly excellent outing against the Rockies back on May 13th, and a start where he limited the Orioles to three runs despite surrendering ten baserunners and only striking out three of Baltimore's hacker-heavy line-up.
I don't normally go over every pitcher start-by-start, but I'm going to make another exception for Vargas here because of the incredibly hilarious variance in performance/results in his last four:
- 6.2 IP, 8 K, 2 RA
- 4.2 IP, 6 K, 7 RA
- 6.1 IP, 6 K, 1 RA, 5 BB(!)
- 6 IP, 7 K, 1 RA
Despite not liking the Vargas contract, I understand the thinking in giving pitchers like him starts if you're the Royals. You give guys with decent control innings in front of a good defense, and good things can happen. But wow, in the last three weeks, that's not what he's been. This looks more like an "effectively wild" rookie's gamelogs. It's probably just a random stretch that won't last, but it's been interesting.
Came back to earth a bit since last time, and landed on his elbow as he fell out of orbit. Ventura's numbers, both surface and underlying, remain positive. And he made it through his bullpen session with incident. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed for a healthy return to the mound on Thursday.
Guthrie righted his ship--it's always a little leaky--with decent starts against Baltimore, Chicago, Toronto, and Houston. You know the book on him at this point; he throws the ball near the plate most of the time, and hopes the resulting contact ends well for him. He's still striking out less than a batter every two innings, but at least he didn't get pounded these past couple weeks.
He's been a bit of a roller coaster of an experience in the rotation, which is a lot better than someone flatlining. Particularly when one of the ups comes against the Cardinals. Duffy's had two starts where he didn't allow a run, and two others where he struggled to get anyone out and walked as many or more hitters as he K'd. Hopefully he finds a happy medium.
The last time Holland was charged with a run was May 5th, which was the San Diego that represents his only blown save of the year. He's now 15 of 16 in save opps, and has 30 K's in 20.1 IP. It's fun to write thing about Greg Holland.
In sort of the opposite of last year's early struggles, Herrera's been generally effective but hasn't been able to miss bats at the same rate as before. In his last ten appearances, he's only been charged with a run in one of them, but his K:BB is only 7:5. Still, it's certainly an improvement over watching home run after home run sail out of the yard.
Was on a nice little run where it appeared that he'd gotten over his early season struggles, then allowed two runs to the Astros and a run to the Angels in back-to-back appearances. Then he tossed three scoreless against the Blue Jays. Collins' appearances have been more encouraging of late, but his season K:BB of 1 is not what you want to see out of any pitcher.
"It's not that he's pitched badly, he hasn't. But that 0 ERA is ridiculously deceiving. Call me back in two weeks in regard to how he's actually pitched, I'm on the phone with Frank right now trying explain a concept or two.
The answer, past self, is that Crow has been pitching badly of late. No word on if Frank actually accepted my past self's advice. And to be completely fair to Aaron, he's alternated pretty decent appearances with "leaking oil all over the K" appearances. Since last Ups and Downs, he is the proud owner of five scoreless appearances...but he also allowed 8 runs in the other three.
Also, it's been three weeks. Way to be late on that, jerk.
Has a higher K-rate than Holland this season. It feels like we've been saying stuff like this forever on this site, but the shame of the whole Wade Davis acquisition is that he's a perfectly good, if not downright badass, reliever. The Royals pretended him into a role he wasn't suited for in a misguided effort to maximize the value from "The Trade," when really he should just be appreciated for what he's been darn good at thisseason. He gets outs out of the bullpen, with 43 Ks in 25.1 IP, and so he lived happily ever after.
I suspect people might not hit .116 off him all year long, but hey, that's a discussion for another day.
Others: Francisely Bueno is active again, but hasn't made an appearnce yet. With any luck, Bruce Chen's DL stint officially ends his time as a Royals rotation regular. Louis Coleman had his gun and badge taken after allowing 13 runs in 18 innings, allowing 36 baserunners over that span. We officially have a Wilking Rodriuez on this team. Surprising not very many people who've seen him pitch this year, Michael Mariot hasn't done anything remotely well enough to move up off mop-up duty.
The Royals, who have the same record as the Defending World Champion Boston Red Sox, are in action tonight in the second game of a four-game set in St. Louis. Can the hitters provide enough runs for this heroic pitching to lead us to victory over evil? Stay tuned!