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Royal Ups and Downs: September Malaise Edition

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The series that chronicles the highs and lows of the Royals roster continues, this team with a wee bit less winning.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If we've come full circle, as other people writing for this blog have suggested, and the Royals Devil Magic has reversed itself, I guess we should all be thankful that it happened in the span of a series with the Chicago White Sox and then a game against the Twins. If the BABIP Fairy has left Kansas City for a vacation in Fern Gully, and LOB% Minotaur has once again had to go into hiding to avoid being BBQ'd, at least there's plenty of time for the Royals to coax both back into the fold by October. I'm not really panicking, so much as wondering how this team avoided a cold stretch for so long.

Still, it's not all luck. The Royals haven't just been cold and unlucky; they've been swept at home by a mediocre division opponent and they've looked particularly bad in some of their other recent losses. We shouldn't just dismiss this stretch as all luck, as there's been plenty of bad baseball. It's just, and I will admit to doing this, silly to place too much weight on a stretch like this. No, it hasn't been fun to watch. Yes, really good teams lose badly sometimes. Ask the Blue Jays and Drew Hutchinson about that, because they got pasted.

It is, however, undeniably creepy to see a team that had everything go right last October be on the receiving end of last night's missed third strike call/game-winning homer combination. Maybe I should just stop talking before I convince myself that karma exists, and get to those Pitching Staff Ups and Downs. Reminder that, with Ups and Downs back a on regular schedule, these apply to only the last two weeks:

SP - Johnny Cueto -

kaboom

By now you're already aware Cueto's last handful of starts haven't been good ones. From where I'm sitting, it's be more of a matter of losing command within the strike zone that a total lapse in control. These stretches happen. Cueto's ERA is now 3.24, and his FIP is 3.28, so the gap has been closed. I'd sure like to see him dominate next time out, but I think freaking out (as opposed to just being nervous because the playoffs are coming and he's slumped a bit) a little bit premature. Also, please leave your fb-esque "we never should have gotten Cueto" comment on facebook and not on this post.

My biggest fear here would be if the Royals/Cueto decided it was better to pitcher through an injury than address it, but I'd hope that the team is smart enough to figure out what a terrible idea it'd be,

SP - Edinson Volquez -

nope

I suppose it doesn't help the Cueto-worry that Volquez has been alternating good and bad starts since the beginning of August. This time, they came in the form of a bad outing versus Detroit--almost exactly the same as Cueto's versus the White Sox, though against a better team--and a right-the-ship seven innings versus Minnesota two days ago. But if you weren't expecting solid-but-unspectacular, I'm not sure what to tell you.

SP - Yordano Ventura -

Ups

I guess Ventura heard some people wonder out loud how a pitcher with his stuff could be struggling like this, because he's been on fire recently. While he was all over the place against Minnesota in taking the loss, that came on the heels of back-to-back eleven-strikeout outing against Baltimore and Detroit. Before the rough Twins game, Ventura had five straight starts of at least a K per IP and 2 Rs or less allowed. That is rounding into form.

SP - Danny Duffy -

nope

(auto-generated comment about how Duffy's last couple starts have had bright spots but haven't been great by any stretch)

SP - Kris Medlen -

kaboom

Even with his solid start against the Twins, Medlen's last three stars have included 25 baserunners in 17 innings and quite a lot of shakiness. He's struck out 10 batters, allowed five walks, and hit two Tampa Bay Rays' batters. While I'm happy to see the Royals give him a shot over gascans such as Jeremy Guthrie, Medlen's still struggling through the transition of facing line-ups three times again.

SP/RP - Chris Young

Ups

The good mop-up guy.

SP/RP - Jeremy Guthrie -

kaboom

The bad mop-up guy.

RP - Franklin Morales -

nope

He's no Wade Davis in this regard, but the home run that Morales surrendered to Miguel Sano last night was only the second he's allowed all year. The first come on May 11th.

RP - Luke Hochevar -

nope

Continuing the "oh wow, that's right! Hochevar is still here!" discussion, where do you think he'd rank in most team's bullpens? Because he's a pretty good righty reliever, but here I think it would take injury for him to actually sniff set-up man time consistently, and I wonder if he's most teams' 7th inning guy.

RP - Kelvin Herrera -

nope

Seems to have find his control again over the last few outings after he was pretty wild for much of August. Herrera may be even more important to the Royals in the coming playoffs, given that Holland's not as dominant as he once was and Wade Davis can't actually pitch every single high-leverage inning ever.

RP - Wade Davis -

Ups

Davis bounced back from a rough couple weeks in August by returning to the normalcy of him not allowing any runs; he hasn't allowed one since August 18th, and he's struck out eight batters in five scoreless innings since the last Ups and Downs post.

RP - Greg Holland -

nope

His fastball seems to hit around 90 most nights now, if touching a bit more, and that's a little different from the Holland was used to know. Still, it's not like his effectiveness has completely dried up: he's still fanned 47 hitters in 42 IP this season. Recently, he surrendered two runs in Baltimore and then pitched three scoreless outings after that. Pretty much par for the course in 2015.

Not Given Their Own Entry Due To Just Arriving And/Or Lack Of Appearances: Miguel Almonte, Ryan Madson (only 2 appearances in two weeks), Scott Alexander, Louis Coleman, Joba Chamberlain

~

The Royals are off today, as you probably already know, and will face the Orioles in a three-game set starting tomorrow. Have a good weekend, you all!