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Royals Rumblings - News for October 8, 2015

Tonight, we ride.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Rumblings - News for October 8, 2015

Vahe Gregorian writes that Ned Yost has been right, even when he's wrong.

Whether there is a causal relationship in this is secondary, and that’s a part of this baseball managing job that has been overlooked in the contemporary hysteria over cold-blooded, rational analysis that we all have at our fingertips. Because it removes the human factor in a game that ultimately is as much or more about that than anything else.

Yost and his staff’s job isn’t simply to understand and apply numbers. It’s to get beyond the numbers and know what’s relevant and what isn’t and what makes an individual or team click. It’s to know, for instance, that Moustakas — through ups and downs that included a demotion last year to Class AAA Omaha — would be a guy who appreciated the reassurance of a hug when he was told he was being sent to the minors.

That sort of overarching concern and faith was crucial, Moustakas said at the All-Star Game. Having "the pulse on the heartbeat of the clubhouse and the players," general manager Dayton Moore said, is essential to a manager’s job and one of Yost’s greatest assets.

Sam Mellinger gets the scoop on why Yordano Ventura, not Johnny Cueto, is starting Game One.

The job on Thursday could have been Cueto’s. The Royals won’t say that publicly, which is fine, but it’s true. Cueto didn’t want to, and the team didn’t push. He has never pitched on short rest, and declined the opportunity. He was not up for it. Ventura told the team he’d be willing to go on short rest, and he’s been pitching better lately anyway, so Cueto is taking a symbolic demotion....

The Royals are presenting this as Ventura’s achievement rather than Cueto’s miss, but there are elements of both. Ventura shrunk when given the opening day start this year, and even if he’s grown since, the logic of giving him the first playoff start would be a stretch if not for Cueto’s relative struggles and unwillingness to potentially pitch on short rest.

Craig Brown at Royals Authority thinks Royals hitters will have it tough against Astros starter Collin McHugh.

Like most starters, McHugh will open with his fastball. If he falls behind, he will show slider. It hasn’t been a particularly effective pitch for him this summer, but it’s probably because he’s throwing it more in a hitter’s count. When the batter is ahead, McHugh goes slider nearly 50 percent of the time. That’s a fairly high percentage for a singular situation. Opponents are hitting .306 against the slider with a .443 slugging percentage. Of his three pitches he shows with frequency, the slider is the one most susceptible to being driven for a hit.

The Royals, as you may expect given their aggressive approach at the plate, do not hit sliders well. This looks to be a struggle.

Hunter Samuels at Pine Tar Press evaluates the Astros hitters.

Let me just get this out of the way: Correa is an absolute stud, and he’s probably going to be terrorizing pitchers for the next 15 years, so there’s no magic solution for the Royals in this series. He’s shown more power than Springer, without the strikeouts, and he’s drawn walks in 9.3% of his plate appearances. He’s just a ridiculously talented player, and a few weeks ago he wouldn’t have been legally allowed to drink any of the champagne the Astros have been celebrating with. You can insert your own "when I was 21 years old…" story here. Correa is an athletic freak.

But he’s not an impossible out. Against curveballs, Correa’s hitting .243 with a .351 slugging percentage, and while he doesn’t chase as often as Altuve, Royals pitchers can get him to swing through a hook. He’s whiffed on more than a third of his swings against that pitch this season.

Vahe Gregorian thinks Terrance Gore could be the odd man out on the post-season roster.

Gore still is seeking his first big-league hit, but he batted .284 at Class AA Northwest Arkansas this season as he "freaked out" opponents by getting the ball in play more and adding bunts to his game. But because the Royals are more multi-dimensional this season, adding a surge of power to their game, Gore may not be called on this postseason. "If I’m not on it, I’ll be the biggest cheerleader ever," he said.

Jeffrey Flanagan also takes a look at the potential post-season roster, and argues Gore should be on it.

Should get the nod because he is a magnificent weapon as a pinch-runner late in games. Simply doesn't get thrown out, so if Yost is down by a run, he's a game-changer. No real spot for Gomes with Rios hitting as well as he did. "No one has told me anything," Gore said. "I hope I can make it and help them when they need me."

Rany Jazayerli picks his 25-man post-season roster.

Someone has to be left off the roster, and I don’t know who it will be. I don’t know who it should be. Honestly, if I had to choose, I’d say it should be Alex Rios, because I’m not sure there’s anything that Rios does right now any better than Orlando, and Orlando has a substantial defensive advantage on him. (According to Defensive Runs Saved, Orlando was +8 runs in barely 600 innings in the field. Rios was -6 runs in 105 starts in right field.) Between Orlando, Gomes, and Dyson, the Royals could cobble together a pretty good right fielder and still have some options on the bench.

But if you’re going to start Rios, the choice of who to leave off becomes a lot less clear. Do you really need Orlando, who can do lots of things in a pinch but doesn’t do anything well enough to make you want to reach for him in an emergency? Do you really need Gomes to hit against a left-handed pitcher, given that unlike last year – when Josh Willingham pinch-hitting for Moustakas in the ninth inning of the Wild Card game saved the Royals’ season – it’s unlikely you’ll ever pinch-hit for Moustakas, or Gordon, or Hosmer, the three left-handed hitters in your lineup? Do you really need Gore when, by starting Rios, you’ve already got one of the five fastest runners in baseball on the bench in Dyson?

I think the decision is close enough that the best answer is simply "it depends". It depends on the opponent: if you play the Astros, with Dallas Keuchel and Scott Kazmir and a left field fence that’s just 318 feet down the line, then you probably roster Gomes and maybe even start him in right field at Minute Maid Park when Keuchel takes the mound for Game 3.

Baseball Prospectus likes the Royals in a close series.

PECOTA calls it a close one: Game One a coin flip, Game Two a 58 percent edge to the Royals, Game Three 62 percent to the Astros, and so on. Without PECOTA as my crutch, I have to fall back on the ways of my simple-folk ancestors: The Royals will win an extremely close one, because of Esky Magic.

The Star has a compilation video of the entire Royals regular season.

Taylor Witt at The Sports Collective has his Royals-Astros series preview.

Deadspin makes the case for rooting for the Royals.

Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman admits he couldn't pull the trigger on a deal for Ben Zobrist this summer.

Aaron Stilley at Royals Authority has your ALDS schedule desktop.

Kauffman Stadium is adding another watering hole.

The details of C.C. Sabathia's drinking problem and how it began to affect the Yankees are coming out.

The Cardinals try to explain the "Molina factor". Feel the veteran presence!

Matt Harvey apologizes for missing his team's workout.

Carlos Beltran is one of the greatest active players without a championship ring.

Stupid sports talk radio guy tweets stupid thing about ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza.

Meg Rowley of Just a Bit Outside writes what seeing Mendoza in the booth means to her.

The St. Louis football stadium is going to cost way more than promised.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is facing a 90-day suspension OMG WHY DOES HE STILL HAVE A JOB????

Microsoft's Windows phones probably aren't going to sell, but that's not the plan anyway.

Who ya got for the Nobel Peace Prize?

Jack White crashed his neighborhood potluck and no one recognized him.

The underrated influence of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.

Your song of the day is Tom Russell with "Tonight We Ride."