But I mean, we're all just haters, right? There's no way that such a well-constructed team could slump to the point where the postseason now seems like a bit of a pipe dream.
Yes, until the recent stretch of losing, the Royals had indeed hung around the fringes of the postseason picture, as many predicted. And no, the season isn't over. Still, the fact remains that after 98 games, the All-In version of the Royals stand at 48-50. Anyone think this year's edition of the team has a 17-4 stretch in them? They'll need something akin to that; a 17-4 stretch still wouldn't overtake the Detroit Tigers, provided the AL Central leaders managed to go 10-11 over that same period of time.
And so it goes. I can't honestly say it' surprising. For me, the surprise of the Moore-led Royals will always be that GMDM stayed employed for this long, and that the 2013 team actually made a half-decent run at the second wild card for a little while. Even if I never thought they would win it, it was more fun than this. Will the Pitching Staff Ups and Downs explain getting swept by the shell of the Boston Red Sox to go under .500? Read on.
Shields pitched a very good game against the Tigers, fanning eight in seven innings, and only took the loss because the Royals (still) can't hit. His performance against the Red Sox was significantly more underwhelming, but wasn't what you'd call a disaster either. Despite a slight strikeout rate decline, his xFIP to-date is lower than last year's figure, he's just giving up more dingers and stranding less runners. This makes all the difference between last year's stellar performance and this year's Slightly More Tame James. The LOB% Minotaur approaches, you see; last year he was at 79.5%, career he's just over 73.4%, this year he's at 71%.
Jason Vargas has successfully had an appendectomy, so he should return soon. Feel better, Jason!
Guthrie has now yielded 42 baserunners in his last four starts, which span 20.2 IP. Ouch. Not much more to say about his recent performances than this.
We've gotten "generally good Danny Duffy" in the last couple weeks, which means he mixed a legitimately good start with another one where he somehow kept people off the board while walking more than he struck out. Still, as with Shields, his Detroit start was pretty stellar (6 K, 6 IP), so he earns the up arrow for that and his moxie/guts/luck in limiting the Sawx to one run over six-plus. Naturally, he took the loss for that game because baseball is stupid.
Ventura's hitting a bit of a wall, it seems. As discussed in the last pitching ups and downs, he really hasn't been missing the bats you'd expect from a guy with his stuff of late, and his last two starts have been pretty miserable; yielding four runs on five hits and four walks in five innings versus Tampa, and failing to get a strike three in a terrible start against the Red Sox. His bullpen appearance against the Tigers can't save him from the big mean red arrow this week.
I submit that the closer is probably the most bored member of the team during a losing streak or bad stretch of games. Do you think Greg Holland has a lot of funny jokes to tell teammates? Because he sure hasn't pitched much recently. I mean, outside of the ASG.
If there's any justice in this world (and if pigs fly and Canada invades Michigan), the Royals would look at moving pitchers like Herrera and Crow at the deadline. Herrera's been very effective, but not really back at the heights he once was. His last couple appearances have hardly been stellar, but it's weird to think that a guy who was such a flamethrower two years ago could sort of fly under the radar as a trade chip this season.
Been stinking it up lately, just not really getting directly punished for it all the time. In his last five appearances, he's walked seven hitters in 4.2 innings and struck out two. He only got tagged for this performance on the 12th versus Detroit, but this is still a pretty ugly stretch of "relief pitching."
Maybe the second-most bored person during bad streaks is the set-up man.
His spot start versus Detroit was not a disaster! Yay, Bruce!
No real knock on Frasor himself, but if the Royals end up only trading for a ROOGY in a year where they were supposed to be in position to go for it...well, at least they won't be burning the farm system in a lost effort, but it's still depressing in a way. Frasor's fine at what he does, but the odds of what he does making much of a difference are pretty small.
Between the ASB and the four-game losing streak, it hasn't been a particularly busy couple weeks for the bullpen. Sorry for all these sideways things, but that's the truth.
Oh neat, we got a lefty too.
The Royals wrap up their series with the White Sox tonight and tomorrow, then have a three game set with Cleveland. This next week will be telling as to whether this team goes quietly into the night, or surges once more into pseudo contender (second wild card) status. Happy Tuesday!