ERA is a flawed stat, sure, but get this: Since the 1994 MLB strike, there have been 768 qualifying individual pitching seasons for starters in the AL. By ERA, the worst of which was Jose Lima in 2005 who somehow carried a 6.99 ERA through 32 starts, and if that doesn't explain the Royals' 2005 season in a nutshell, nothing will.
In those 768 seasons, only one ended with an ERA below 2, and that was Pedro Martinez in 2000, who put together a season with a 1.74 ERA. Absolutely unreal.
Chris Sale, the Chicago White Sox starter, currently sports an ERA of 1.99. The Royals are averaging under three runs per game for their last 24 contests. The Royals have scored 1 run off of Sale in 15 innings this year.
Do you think good things will happen? Yeah, me neither.
The Royals trot this lineup out tonight:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Break Your Heart Right Back Lineup: Escobar 6, Aoki 9, Cain 8, Willingham DH, Gordon 7, Perez 2, Butler 3, Infante 4, Nix 5, Ventura 1.</p>— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) <a href="https://twitter.com/McCulloughStar/status/512325472563499011">September 17, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Further complicating things is the Royals' apparent and sudden inability to win ballgames. Should they miss the playoffs, criticism will be showered upon the team. After a great August in which they went 19-10, they currently sit at 8-7 in September. Four of those losses have come against last place teams. That is not good.
The Royals have 11 full games to be played and a partial 12th, almost assuredly a loss to be levied against the team as it is a suspended game wherein the Royals were down by 2 runs in the bottom of the tenth. They play six games combined against Cleveland and Detroit, against whom they are a collective 12-20. If it takes 90 wins for a Wild Card spot, which was the winning option in the poll earlier today, the Royals must win 8 more games in only 11, including tonight against Sale.
The math does not look good, and neither do the Royals. But let's #BeRoyal anyway.