Royals Rumblings - News for October 21, 2015
Sam Mellinger writes about what a great team effort the Royals displayed in their blowout win.
"Just a great overall team win," starting pitcher Chris Young said. "That’s what this group is."
Fittingly, they did the closing damage with no home runs — eight singles, three walks, three run-scoring sacrifice flies, a double and a hit batter. When the Royals are right, they are more buckshot than bombs, winning the fight like a pack of dogs rather than one lion. They have taken to calling this "frenzy hitting," another of those identifiers that might not make sense to outsiders but fits this group like an old slipper. Ozzie Guillen, when he managed the White Sox, used to call the Royals piranhas.
"It can come at any time," reliever Luke Hochevar said. "You just know these guys are going to fight every at-bat. They’re going to battle every pitch."
Vahe Gregorian writes that emergence of Alex Rios' gives the Royals a solid lineup throughout.
Sixteen years ago, the Toronto Blue Jays drafted Alex Rios 19th overall and assigned him to rookie ball at their affiliate in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
"The only thing I can recall," he said, smiling, "is big mosquitoes that we used to get on night games."
Small wonder he couldn’t recall more: That was where he began a 556 minor-league-game and 1,691-major-league-game Odyssey to his first postseason in MLB, finally this year ending his sad distinction as the active player who’d gone longest without appearing in the playoffs.
"It’s been a long road," Rios said after going 3-for-3 with a home run to help the Royals clobber the Blue Jays 14-2 on Tuesday to take a 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series.
Grant Brisbee writes that Chris Young has been one of the most underrated players of this post-season.
Consider first that he's a right-hander who throws an 86-mph fastball, on average. He's throwing as hard as the death rattle of a 41-year-old former Cy Young pitcher, except he's still making it work. He's still flummoxing. He's a flummoxer. Watching Chris Young is to watch the best players in baseball swing through air, even though there's no earthly reason why they should. Young is one of those smoky dorm room thought experiments. What if we took a pitcher and stretched him out, so that he released the ball four feet from the plate, man? He's proof that deception can be just as important as velocity, and he's continuing his successful-if-healthy run well into his 30s. He might never get a two-year contract for the rest of his career, but he's one of baseball's most watchable pitchers.
Chris Young calls pitcher wins "ridiculous."
"Wins for a pitcher, it's a somewhat ridiculous stat. It has been for a long time."
Young opened up about his father, who died last month.
To Young, a 36-year-old right-hander, those qualities stem from his father, who had been battling cancer for years. Charles Young captained the football team at Texas Christian University as an offensive lineman in the 1960s. He flew patrol aircraft as a Naval Aviator and spent 26 years in the service. He provided constant counsel for his son throughout his baseball career. Charles tried not to stray too deep into technical tips about pitching, Chris said. But he offered broader advice. The Royals removed Young from the rotation after Cueto arrived in late July. Young fumed at the decision, but his dad advised him to use it as fuel.
"He just reminded me, ‘Hey, worry about what you can control, and everything works out,’ " Young said. "Just always there providing great insight. He was a very, very rational person. Very level-headed."
Ben Lindbergh at Grantland writes that the Royals high-contact approach may give them a post-season edge.
It’s possible that the Royals’ institutional aversion to true outcomes helps them more in this high-strikeout era than it did in the past, although Lichtman says any era-specific effect would be "a very, very slight edge." Theoretically, it should also matter more in October, when teams face a higher concentration of power pitchers. Glanville believes that contact might even have a compounding effect when paired with the postseason’s high stakes. "The postseason obviously is a different animal," Glanville says. "It’s not just inherent contact. I think it’s the type of pressure your team places on the other team. In the postseason, when you’re already established as a good team, that point of differentiation I think really starts to matter."
Matthew Kory at Fangraphs isn't sure Johnny Cueto's pitches were all that bad on Monday.
The big inning was the third, wherein the Blue Jays ended up scoring six runs. The big blow that inning was — well, actually there were a few of them, which sort of tells you about the inning — but Cueto was ineffective enough to be out of the game by the time the second big one to the chops was issued. The first was Troy Tulowitzki’s three run homer after Cueto gave up a two-strike single and then a four-pitch walk. The inning before Cueto had given up three runs to the Jays, who went single, hit-by-pitch, ground out, single, walk, single. That’s hardly getting torched, but it was an oddly Royals-like inning in its effectiveness. Anyway, at least by Leverage Index, the two big hits for the Blue Jays were Goins’ single in the second and Tulowitzki’s homer in the third. Let’s take a look at the pitches that provides us with those outcomes. Where they bad pitches, in which case Cueto should get the blame? Where they good pitches but hit well?
In his Twitter Tuesday, Sam Mellinger thinks Johnny Cueto's issues are confidence-related.
My theory, and I alluded to this in the column, is that his confidence is shaken. That’s a chicken and egg thing, because nobody’s going to be confident when they’re getting drilled, but I think something switched for him when he was traded, and to another league. I think it got him out of his comfort zone, pitching to new hitters, with new teammates, new coaches, and he has struggled with that adjustment. I think he relies on deception and timing and winning the mental game, and he’s not doing any of those things right now. He’s an easy guy to read on the mound. When he’s pitching with a quick pace, he’s usually feeling good. When he’s attacking the strike zone, he’s confident. When he’s not doing either of those things, his margin for error is smaller than someone like, say, Felix Hernandez.
Statcast looks at how Ben Zobrist turned a knuckleball into a 400-foot home run.
Salvy took a shot off the collarbone and one of the chin, but of course he's fine.
Jays reliever Aaron Loup had to leave the team due to a family emergency.
Toronto Star columnist Bruce Arthur says the Royals are better than the Jays in every way so far.
Alcides Escobar is the first person ever to begin the first four games of a post-season series with a hit.
Joe Posnanski writes that replay on plays like the Alex Rios steal are not why replay was implemented.
Buster Olney writes that MLB should look into holding umpires accountable after Troy Tulowitzki's quick ejection in Game Three.
Chiefs quarterback (future starting quarterback?) Chase Daniel expresses his support for the Royals.
Let's go @Royals!!! Love the fight in this team...so much fun watching them day in and day out!!— Chase Daniel (@ChaseDaniel) October 20, 2015
The Simpsons cut a World Series promo for FOX.
Scott Boras has taken out an insurance policy on his client Matt Harvey.
Masahiro Tanaka has surgery to remove a bone spur.
Who should be on the mid-season college football All-American team?
Your doctor could soon make hologram house calls.
Some European cities are going car-free in their central districts.
Gilmore Girls is coming back - on Netflix.
Every scene of the new Star Wars trailer analyzed.
Your song of the day is Rod Stewart with "Forever Young." (h/t cmkeller)