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Royal Ups and Downs: May Malaise Edition

The out-of-the-park, smash-hit series that chronicles the highs and lows of the Royals roster.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it's not like the Royals have been bad of late, it's just that 18-19 probably isn't an appropriately time to plan the parade (feelings aside). KC is coming off a series versus Seattle where the Battle for Grass Creek was salvaged thanks to two victories in the final three games of the series; one being the most Royal game ever, winning on the strength of singles train, no strikeouts, and one walk; one being a game that involved two home runs by players in Kansas City uniforms, prompting me to put out a missing persons report on the real Johnny Giavotella and Alcides Escobar. Where ever the pod aliens who hung dong in their stead are from, I want them to realize they're on notice. We are on to you.

Bizarrely, Escobar's mother's day blast actually counted for four runs at once, which also seems awfully suspicious. Having consulted the rule book, it appears that there's not actual documentation that would prevent the Royals from winning games by scoring a lot of runs. Imagine my surprise. After all, this is a team that relies heavily on the Pitching Staff, and tends to rise and fall with their Ups and Downs.

(Nailed it!)

Sorry, here's the arrow gizmos and my lame explanations for them. As always, this is for the last couple weeks.

James Shields - Kablooey_medium

He was perfectly fine in his last start, not allowing a run to the Padres over seven innings, but the last couple starts have represented Shields coming back earthwards bit. First of all, the Padres are a miserable offensive team. Second of all, his previous start, May 2nd, he was lit up for 13 baserunners and 7 runs to his name by the Detroit Tigers. Seven strikeouts over two starts isn't what you like to see from your ace.

Jason Vargas - Kablooey_medium

If there's a pitcher who better exemplifies the phrase, "you're never as good as you look when you win, or as bad as you look when you lose," I don't know of him. The luck pendulum swung the other way for Vargas in two of his three starts, as his starts against Toronto and Detroit yielded double-digit hits allowed and and more runs against than innings pitched. He did right the ship with a nice start against the Mariners last time out, however.

And, as I'll remind you when Vargas is running hot that his good stretches mostly coincide with good batted ball luck, his bad stretches aren't necessarily the result of bad pitching, so much as just "a thing that happen to pitchers who don't miss many bats." It's fair to point out, though, that he's still running well above his career LOB%, and his FIP/xFIP are both a run higher. The Royals defense is usually pretty good, so maybe those won't regress all the way.

Yordano Ventura - Nope_medium

Last time, I wrote about how Ventura's turn really shouldn't be skipped anymore. Since then, Yordano's had a few bumps in the road, but nothing so serious that would change my opinion that he should be a Royals rotation fixture for years to come. Ventura gets the sideways thumb because each of his starts came with a caveat; Toronto he only made it through five innings, San Diego he surrendered three runs despite his ten strikeouts, and in Seattle he walked more batters than he struck out. And yeah, his strand rate is a little high.

Still, there were some pretty electric performances within these starts, and I wonder how long it might be before he's considered required viewing. That's how awesome this guy's stuff is.

Jeremy Guthrie - Kablooey_medium

Sandwiched a mediocre start and a miserable one around a pretty good Guthrie-esque performance against the Padres. I'll be honest, I considered tossing out every pitcher's San Diego starts, because it almost seems too kind to the Royals to give them credit for limiting runs against a team that hits like them. Still, Guthrie kept them off the board, and that's what counts in the short term. He also did it on a night where the bullpen really needed a break, which helps in the slightly longer term.

Unfortunately, what also counts are four runs to a somewhat unwatchable Toronto squad, and seven runs allowed against the Seattle Robinson Canos. Guthrie's value is in how many innings he eats and how many times he can swindle hitters into hitting 'em where they are, and the fact that the latter didn't happen these past couple weeks has seen his ERA inflate to 4.80

Danny Duffy - Up_medium

Was limited to 75 pitches in his first start after joining the rotation against Detroit, and walked four. Then looked pretty decent against Seattle in limiting the Mariners to a run over six-plus. The key for Duffy is something you already knew about: his control needs to improve for him to keep limiting the RA to 1s. He has the stuff to succeed, but he doesn't always known where it's going, as evidenced by his 17:10 K:BB in 18 innings. When he's on, he can look like another guy who could turn a corner and make a difference. When he's off, he beats himself. Happily for the Royals, it's been a little more of the former in his first two starts, at least in terms of run prevention.

Greg Holland - Up_medium

Holland's 6 IP, 5 K, 1 ER over the last two weeks is not the most dominant stretch for the Royals closer, but he's nonetheless looked pretty good in getting the job. He did blow a save against the Padres, which feels like a down arrow offense in itself, but every-so-often I have to remind myself that my expectations for Holland are so high for a reason. Greg is sporting a 21:2 K:BB in 14 innings this year, I think he's pretty good.

Aaron Crow - Nope_medium

I'm sorry, but I'm too annoyed to write anything other than "bringing in Aaron Crow with men on base is not a great idea." 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.

Kelvin Herrera - Up_medium

He's been sort of "effectively wild" since last time I wrote on the pitchers, and, to be fair, that can work a little better for relievers than starters. His K:BB in his last eight appearances in only 6:5, though, so don't be surprised at all if the arrow looks angrier and points in a different direction next time.

Louis Coleman - Kablooey_medium

He hasn't had much in the way of luck in his recent outing, but being charged with five earned runs in 7.1 innings is pretty rough pitching, no matter how you slice it. Inconsistent usage isn't really to blame here, as he's not longer going a week in-between appearances; Coleman's walking too many hitters, and being punished for it.

Tim Collins - Nope_medium

His ugly K:BB is almost completely because of his rough couple appearances which occurred before he hit the DL. Since returning from injury, he's looked decent without really distinguishing himself as particularly effective.

Wade DavisUp_medium

Rebounded from a two-walk performance in Toronto in not allowing a run over the next three appearances. In his past five innings pitched, Wade F. Davis has K'd 10 hitters. Couple that with zero runs charged to his account, and that's good for the happy arrow every day of the week.

Others:  Bruce Chen has been on the shelf since his start on the 24th of April. Francisely Bueno was last season heading out on a rehab assignment May 3rd. Michael Mariot had allowed five runs in his last three appearances before being sent down.


Hope everyone enjoys the rest of the off day. The Royals will be back in Kansas City tomorrow, beginning a nine game homestand against the Rockies, Orioles, and White Sox.