Well, that was a either a fun rollercoaster or a crappy hike, depending upon how you look at it. The Royals briefly claimed first place from the slumping Tigers, and then immediately went the other way. Nonetheless, last night's victory over Zack Greinke and the Dodgers leaves the boys in blue at 40-36 and only a couple games out. Hope always seems like a bit of an illusion when it comes to the Kansas City baseball club, but maybe this is the year that the Tigers don't run away with things.
Even if the Royals did give back recent gains, they've still attained their current record after a 27-30 start. Hey, that makes things sound pretty good. They've been in the win column more often than not. But the more important question? How did they do in the Pitching Staff Ups and Downs? Time to start slinging some arrows.
The Royals have gone on a pretty good run without their best starter coming up with much in the way of results. Shields is still eating innings, but they haven't been that effective with the exception of his eight strikeout, six scoreless outing against the Yankees. The other starts? Walking four against the hated Cardinals, giving up ten hits to the White Sox, and five runs to the Mariners. Some of that was strand rate normalizing, but he's actually lower than his career rate in that category now.
Vargas's innings haven't been super effective either, but they've been "good Vargas" innings and he's thrown 30 of them combined in his last four starts. That's four starts of seven innings or more against St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, and Seattle. He's hovering around 80% for a strand rate, which is not sustainable, but it's worth noting that the result has been four quality efforts in a row (at least in the short term).