Royals Rumblings - News for October 15, 2015
Sam Mellinger writes about how Johnny Cueto exceeded expectations in Game Five.
Confidence was low enough that Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland openly talked about having a short leash if Cueto got into early trouble Wednesday. Before the game, manager Ned Yost said he hoped to get six innings from Cueto. When was the last time you heard that said about a supposed ace? As it turned out, Cueto was even better than Yost had hoped — eight innings, two runs, two hits, no walks and eight strikeouts. "He was unbelievably good," Yost said. "He knew the magnitude of this game. I think we all did. He came out from the first pitch and had everything going."
The expected new staff ace, who continually stubbed his toe as he tried to fit in with his new club, had no business guaranteeing anything Wednesday, but a guarantee is exactly what he made to some of his teammates in the clubhouse before a winner-take-all game against the Houston Astros.
"He told me before the game that he would throw more than seven innings and I told him, ‘I know, I trust you man,’" shortstop Alcides Escobar said. "He’s one of the best pitchers in the major leagues. I know he had been struggling a little bit in the past. We said, ‘We need you tonight. Forget about the past, just tonight.’ He said get runs for me and he did really good."
Johnny's performance wiped out a month of frustration.
"He showed up," pitching coach Dave Eiland said. "He showed up and came up big. He did exactly what we got him to do. He showed up in the biggest moment, and for me, that erases everything else."
Vahe Gregorian writes that Dayton Moore's aggressiveness and Ned Yost's patience delivered in droves.
Had Cueto and the Royals not delivered, of course, this would all look different right now. The Cueto deal could be seen as a bust that mortgaged the future without maximizing the present. And all the fussing and fiddling to gear up the team for postseason would be viewed as "couldn’t flip the switch back on" and "can’t ever take your pedal off the gas." But hindsight bias is all we have in the unexplainable game of baseball. So the day the Royals acquired Cueto foretold an audacious approach that paid ample dividends on Wednesday … and into at least the near future.
Craig Brown at Royals Authority writes that Cueto turned in one of the best post-season performances in franchise history.
From that point, it was the Cueto show. The K elevated and Cueto dominated. He retired the next 19 Astro batters. He shimmied. He quick pitched. He flummoxed Astro batters. Cueto needed just five pitches to work a sixth inning that featured a patented Alex Gordon sliding catch. Cueto came back out for the seventh to a rousing ovation. The Royals bullpen stirred. The Ned Yost Bullpen Blueprint says that when the starting pitcher goes deep into a game with the Royals lead, he will allow his starter to go until a batter reaches base. Then, the bullpen is activated. The Astros all world shortstop Carlos Correa led off the frame and hit a laser that was going over the head of second baseman Ben Zobrist. It was probably going to end Cueto’s night. Except Zobrist summoned every inch of his body to elevate and pull the ball from the air, robbing Correa of a certain hit. The BABIP Gods had spurned the Astros in favor of the Royals.
Cueto needed this performance. He was locked in and in command all night. There was nothing Astro batters could do. The crowd seemingly got louder and louder with each out, lifting Cueto. Pushing him to the summit. Making him Forever Royal.
Here's George Brett's reaction.
Salvador Perez talks about facing the Jays in the ALCS.
The Royals seemed to take issue with the Lance McCullers neck chop gesture in Game 4.
Dustin Palmateer at Baseball Prospectus wonders why the Royals didn't steal home against the Astros.
My first thought (of many) during one of Gregerson's deliveries: Why the heck don't the Royals try stealing home? Hosmer was at third and, sure, he's no burner. Given the profile, however, he also seems like a good candidate for the surprise steal of the plate. Plus, he's probably more sneakily fast than your run-of-the-mill first basemen—he stole 16 of 17 bags back in 2012, and he's 49 for 64 in his five-year career. Here's video of Hosmer—way back from 2011, mind you—stealing second in just over three seconds. Further, he was throwing mostly sliders, a pitch with movement that generally took his catcher away from the plate and the third-base line.
Matthew Kory of Fangraphs looks at solutions to fix replay in the wake of the Terrance Gore call in Game Four.
After thinking this over, I’ve come up with three possible solutions to this problem.
Allow base runners to over-slide the bag, or institute an automatic time out after the batter reaches the base — in other words, the time out every base thief calls for after the play ends would be called by rule immediately after the runner’s hand reaches the base. This way, if his hand comes off the base, it no longer matters because time was called by rule. This effectively makes it a race to the base but, after the base is touched, the play ends, unless the batter makes a clear attempt to move up to the next base.
Or, a more extreme version: Allow base runners to overrun all the bases. Runners can overrun first base, but not second or third. Why is that? Allowing runners to run past bases would let them reach second or third more quickly and also remove any reason to slide, which would eliminate some injuries. Like first base, the play would end once the runner touches the base, provided he makes no attempt to go to the next base.
Eliminate the challenge system. This whole situation is MLB’s fault for implementing the NFL’s replay system. We’re lucky the managers don’t have to throw flags onto the field, lest some third base coach find himself short an eye. If we don’t want to write down a system in the rulebook to protect runners from this type of Zapruder film-style of replay, then give the ability to look at plays to the replay umpires. Allow them to contact the crew chief when a play is potentially in dispute on their own, let them make the call, and then go on with the game.
Looks awfully pretty.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest gives his props.
Kelvin Herrera slaps down a troll on Twitter.
The Royals are selling dirt for $20.
A young fan sends the Royals an inspiring message before surgery.
Blue Jays fans littering the field after a bizarre run is a disgrace to baseball!
Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs ranks the playoff teams.
The inventor of fantasy sports, Daniel Okrent, is amazed by what it has become.
Watch this samurai slice a 100 mph fastball in half.
The FBI is investigating daily fantasy sports sites.
NBA star Lamar Odom has been found unconscious in a Nevada brothel, supposedly after using cocaine.
Kansas City is becoming a powerhouse of architecture.
The Peace Corps is seeing a 40-year high in applications.
The 25 most re-watchable movies of all-time.
Your song of the day is Rare Earth "I Just Want to Celebrate."