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Royals Rumblings - News for October 1, 2015

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Royals Rumblings - News for October 1, 2015

Ned Yost explains why Alcides Escobar will lead off for the rest of the season.

"It’s really hard to explain it," Yost said after the game inside his office at U.S. Cellular Field. "Sometimes there’s just a chemistry in the lineup that can’t be quantified by numbers."

After experimenting, at least theoretically, for three weeks with the statistically optimal lineup, the Royals appear prepared to return to October with the same leadoff man they utilized on their way to last season’s World Series. Escobar swings too often and reaches base too rarely to be considered an ideal table-setter, but Kansas City views him as something of a talisman for their offense.

The approach flies in the face of the data, which suggests a more patient, productive hitters such as Ben Zobrist or Alex Gordon belong in that spot. But the team cratered when Yost used either Zobrist or Gordon atop the order. So he will revert to the approach that helped them run away with the American League Central this summer.

Sam Mellinger gives his thoughts on a possible post-season roster.

A few caveats:

▪ Gomes does not have a hit in 15 at bats since Sept. 3. I like the idea of having Gomes on the bench to hit left-handed pitching. This is one specific skill that can help the Royals and affect what the opposition does. I love the idea of bringing in Gomes to face a lefty, and then pinch running with Gore to steal a run. But if the Royals have concerns about Gomes’ ability to hit right now, this is a different conversation, and Paulo Orlando gets to play.

▪ Gore could be seen as expendable. He only does one thing, and Dyson could be used as a pinch runner. Same thought process here as with Gomes, though: he does one thing extremely well, a skill that can help the Royals and change what the opposition does. One thing about keeping Gomes and Gore is that it puts extra stress on the rest of your bench. In the scenario I imagined two paragraphs ago, you’re using three subs — Gomes to hit, Gore to run, and then Dyson to play for him. Particularly if the Royals aren’t sure about Gomes, it may make more sense to keep Orlando.

Kris Medlen will pitch tonight for a post-season rotation spot.

With his performance in Thursday’s series finale against the Chicago White Sox, Medlen could improve his chances for a playoff start. The Royals insist his lack of command stems from his return from his second Tommy John surgery.

"That’s the last thing that comes," pitching coach Dave Eiland. "He’s just fighting himself a little, because he’s trying to be so perfect. A lot of times, when you try to be that way, it goes the other way for you. Instead of just trusting your delivery and seeing the spot you want to go and throwing it, and trusting that it’s going to go there."

Vahe Gregorian writes that the Royals still have a great bullpen despite their recent struggles.

For all these disruptions, the Royals still have the best bullpen ERA (2.73) in the American League. And the simplest numbers that perhaps revealed the most about its effectiveness last season are largely the same. In 2014, when the Herrera-Davis-Holland tandem emerged as the knockout punch in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, the Royals were 65-4 after six innings, 72-1 after seven and 79-1 after eight. Entering their game on Tuesday, despite a less routine formula until recently, they were 71-6 after six, 69-3 after seven and 78-1 after eight. That’s a testament to their depth, a hallmark, but it’s also a reflection of the uncanny linchpin of all this.

Craig Brown at Royals Authority looks at Yordano Ventura's tremendous second half turnaround.

If you read the tea leaves (or the numbers) it wasn’t difficult to see that a turnaround was coming. Prior to the All-Star Break, his strand rate was 67 percent. The average starting pitcher will have a strand rate around 75 percent, so you could have rationally expected a correction. The low strand rate was part of the reason he outperformed his ERA of 4.76 with a FIP of 3.96. This isn’t to say, "I saw this happening," because I didn’t. What the numbers in the first half showed was the potential for a turnaround was there. A turnaround, though, was far from assured. Thankfully, he was able to relieve some of the pressure he put on himself and was able to get on the right path in the season’s second half. The Royals will need him fronting the rotation in October.

Darin Watson at Pine Tar Press wants you to stop worrying about home field advantage.

Plus, the Royals are all but assured of having home-field advantage in the ALDS, no matter what. One win or one Texas loss and Kansas City can expect HFA for the first round of the playoffs. And of course the Royals can also count on HFA in the World Series, if that comes to pass. So then it’s just a question of surviving the ALCS if they can’t finish with a better record than Toronto. Once again, I refer to the randomness of the postseason. There’s no guarantee the Blue Jays advance. They are a tremendous team, but they will be facing a good team (whoever it is) as well. A good team that’s hot at the right time can beat anyone. Just ask the 2014 Angels about this. When you consider the Royals are a lock to have home-field in two of their three postseason series, and there is the chance it could happen in the third, there’s just no reason to get upset about losing HFA.

The Star shows some fans reliving last year's Wild Card game.

Here's your complete post-season schedule.

Royals farmhand Josh Staumont is among those pitchers in short season ball highlighted by Baseball America that hit triple digits.

Its not just Twitter that has a problem with Lee Judge's column on Jonathan Papelbon attacking Bryce Harper.

The Sung Woo Lee "30 for 30" short will air tonight on ESPN 2 at 10 p.m.

The Astros are blowing a playoff spot, but Grant Brisbee says their season has already been a success.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today thinks there is too much mediocrity in baseball.

A great majority of on-field incidents seem to stem from cultural differences between white and Latino players.

Why bandwagon fans should be embraced in October.

Beware of the man fleeing in a Charlotte Knights mascot costume.

Jon Bois charts the Bears punts on Sunday.

A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a decision that the NCAA violated anti-trust laws by limiting student-athlete compensation.

Charles Pierce looks at the deaths of kids in high school football.

Hurricane Joaquin is coming to the United States.

Whole Foods will stop selling food made by prisoners.

How many websites are there anyway?

Headline News gets trolled by a guest who intentionally confuses Edward Snowden with Edwards Scissorhands.

Finally I'd like to announce we have expanded our roster, adding Tim Webber to our writing staff. You may remember him from some fanposts such as "Baseballs are a disgrace to baseball" and "Blue Jays suspected of stealing sandwiches." He is one of the only Kevins with an actual background in journalism, so maybe some day we can have him replace Lee Judge. Please welcome him to the staff.

Your song of the day is Travis with "Side."