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Game 104 Open Thread- Royals (37-66) at Rangers (51-53)

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The Royals go for an improbable sweep tonight against Texas. The game might also be the last Royal-appearance from Mark Redman (7-5, 5.03 ERA). In fact, should he be traded in the next few hours, he won't even appear again at all. As Huey Lewis once sang, "if this is it, please let me know".

He'll always be an All-Star in our hearts, as his inspirational selection created a new generation of Royals fans in Kansas City. His magical June (3.74 ERA) and solid July (4.36 ERA) will stick in my memory until the day I die.

Earlier today "AndrewMiller" ran through our bullpen, and its worth being shown here on the front page,

The Royals bullpen has been impressive lately, including strong statistics from players who still get bashed fairly regularly. Bright spots include:

Affeldt: 2-1, 2.96 as a reliever in 18 games. 27 innings pitched, only 16 hits allowed. He's always pitched best out of the pen, and he looks to have real value as a 6th/7th inning guy.

Nelson: 1.35 ERA, .153 OBA, 8.1 K/9 "Iron Man" becoming new Dessens, only younger and without all the runs allowed.

Gobble: 2-0, 3.82 in 30 games as a reliever, lefties hitting .154 against him. He perfectly fits the lefty-specialist slot into which Bell kept trying to cram the ill-qualified Sisco.

Burgos: 1.42 ERA in July in 11 games. Seems to be learning how to avoid the home-run ball.

Nunez: 1.93 ERA in 3 games, short sample size. However, he was also 2-2, 1.80, 15G in Omaha. Proof that using the AAA affiliate, which Baird so often skipped in past years, can pay dividends for pitchers as well as Teahen/Costa.

I see Wellemeyer and Duckworth fitting into the Keppel/Etherton mold, guys who were decent stopgaps for a while and are currently just saving space until: a) Ryan Braun, age 26, 2.35 in 7 games at Omaha and 2.21 in 26 at Wichita gets called up b) Peralta returns from the farm c)Mike Wood comes off the DL to take over the long reliever role. (There's a guy about whom I never hear injury updates, even as every day I receive the irrelevant news of how Bako's progressing.)

For the first time in forever, the Royals have a rotation filled with guys who are going 6 innings and a bullpen (Wellemeyer and Duckworth, neither of which should ever be used in late/close games, excepted)that gives reasons for confidence no matter who get the call. Add to that the prospects that came in trades, particularly the MacDougal deal, and the potential 2007 return of Greinke (5-2, 5.37, 57K in 63 innings at Wichita), and the entire pitching staff looks significantly stronger than it did at the beginning of 2006. That's not saying much, perhaps, but it's a start.

The Rangers send Adam Eaton (0-1 7.36 ERA) to the mound for his second start of the season. It should be a magical evening in Texas.

Lastly, I heartily recommend a 2000 Taylor & Fladgate Port if you ever feel so inclined. Tremendous stuff, my life might not be the same.