I feel like I've been saying this every post this month, but can we start the playoffs already? At least then, if the Royals bad stretch continues and they don't make it that far, we don't have to watch Jeremy Guthrie get lit up. If he somehow makes it onto the postseason roster, please do not even inform me. I'd rather just live in blessed ignorance. I'm too busy dealing with the Wade Davis-Greg Holland swap's reasonableness to even acknowledge that this can happen. Leave me alone.
So, the Royals. The Royals are still not playing particularly well. The Minnesota Twins, 10 games back at the moment, might be playing slightly better. "Slightly better" does not cover a 10-game gap in a couple weeks. The Toronto Blue Jays, on the other hand, are two games back in the loss column with eleven games left on their schedule and a dozen game remaining for the Royals. If home-field advantage is your jam, that's definitely up for grabs now.
The less said here about last night's game, the better, as Josh already recapped it better than I could have. On to the Position Player Ups and Downs!
LF - Alex Gordon -
Let's not call it a collapse, because it is not. Falling out of the postseason would be a collapse. But this Royals team is in a funk, a slump, a down stretch, or what a couple levels above the hyperbolic "collapse" would be. The frustrating thing is that any cold stretch of this length comes with at least a couple good ideas not yielding good results, and a perfect example of that is Alex Gordon's current stint. Since returning from the DL and ascending to his rightful position as lead-off dong-hanger, Gordon has slumped to the tune of .236/.306/.327 over the last two weeks.
There should not be anything wrong with Gordon, at this point, as far as we know. It's just a down stretch for a player who's always been as streaky as the next baseball player. His 4-for-5 and 3-for-4 performances where he dominated the games the Royals played on the 8th and 14th are plenty evidence that he's seeing the ball well. It's just, sometimes the results aren't good. Here's hoping Ned keeps doing the smart thing and leaves him up there.
2B/OF/3B - Ben Zobrist -
Similar to Gordon, there's no need for panic...but he has fallen over his overall pace a bit over the last couple weeks. Zobrist, who to be fair started his KC career at a blistering pace, has dropped off to .237/.318/.390. I write things like this and then I wonder why I'm all that confused that the Royals haven't won a series since the start of September. Anyway, he's fine, just wasn't going to OPS 1,000 for his whole tenure here.
CF - Lorenzo Cain -
It's super-weird to be writing, "hey is something wrong with Lorenzo Cain?" what with how great he's been this year. Still, it bears mentioning that while his overall August line looks good, he's hit .258/.333/.258 over the last 15 games after a hot--you know, like the rest of his year--first couple weeks of August.
That was last time I did Ups and Downs for the non-pitchers. Cain is now 4 for his last 29 and has hit .258/.328/.375, figures much more lin line with pre-breakout Lorenzo Cain, over his last month's worth of plate appearances. Again, we're not talking about a collapse. But that's a pretty long lukewarm stretch at the plate. Afield, as with Gordon, he's been his usual self.
1B - Eric Hosmer -
Hosmer may finally be heating up now, but he had not homered in a month before his 7-ribby game against the Detroit Tigers and he's still bringing up the rear at .250/.309/.321 over the last month despite his recent hot stretch. Hosmer when he's running hot is a fun hitter to watch, and we should hope that's the one we're getting from now until the postseason. Mainly because a corner IF OPS'ing 630 can kill you almost as fast as starting Jeremy Guthrie.
DH - Kendrys Morales -
As the rest of the line-up has hit their hitting abilities sapped by the Scum Beings of planet X-13, Morales alone continues to surge forward despite the encroaching evil. While almost everyone else has taken a nutshot from Captain Regression, Morales has slugged .614 over his last 30 games and four dingers in his last seven. You all know how three of them happened. At .292/.354/.488 overall, his surge has taken him back into the territory of unquestionably good DH'ing.
3B - Mike Moustakas -
Had a hot August, and now we appear to have Playoff Moustakas on our hands in September. Contrary to the popular belief, Playoff Moustakas didn't actually get an XBH every time up, but when he did hit it, it went a long way. Moustakas's season has been almost Hosmer-levels of uneven, so I like at his .242/.277/.516 September line, complete with five dingers, and shrug. Thumbs sideways it is.
If you were wondering, Moustakas hit .231/.259/.558 in the postseason of 2014.
C - Salvador Perez -
Bittersweet is the season where you reach 20 HRs for the first time in your career, while also having your walk rate, OBP drop for the third straight year. It feels like we've been due for a stretch where Perez gets honest-to-goodness hot for awhile, now, but the only month where he's OBP'd over .300 and slugged over .450 at the same time is still April.
This has probably already been discussed, but perhaps lost a bit in the discussion of how many more days off Salvy should get is this: he's hit only .205/.214(!)/.327 against lefties this year, compared to a much more robust .279/.304/.466 against righties. Weird.
RF - Alex Rios -
A hot BABIP stretch has allowed Rios to surge over replacement level recently. That sentence should give you an idea of the low bar he set for himself before getting this up arrow, but I suppose it's also unfair to to omit his 975 OPS in September (albeit in 50ish PAs) on a team that's been gasping for any player on the upswing it can find. Defensively, he's added very little, of course, but Rios's bat has woken up enough to be back in tune with the BABIP Fairy.
SS - Alcides Escobar -
Crashing hard. Escobar's bat appears to have die right after the All-Star Break, and there's been very little since to suggest it's coming back to life. Appropriately relegated to the No. 9 spot and still doing his thing defensively, Alcides has gone from a .290/.327/.372 pre-ASG performance to a staggeringly dismal (even factoring in normalizing his BABIP) .212/.249/.244 since.
2B - Omar Infante -
Every time I thought Infante's bat had hit rock bottom, I was wrong. .210/.234/.318 on the year now, and losing playing time rightfully. The only reason he dodges yet another down arrow is that September has seen him hit his 1st and 2nd HRs of the year, even as his OBP plummets further.
OF - Jarrod Dyson -
Been more cold than hot when he's been in of late--which has not been that often--though he hit his 2nd dinger of the year in September as well. Needless to say, he's still good at defense.
OF - Paulo Orlando -
I feel like whenever I do a position players' edition of this feature, Orlando's always been cold of late. However, this time he's hit .344 over the last 15 games he's appeared in, so let's ignore his faults for a second and give him the green for .344/.344/.781 in 32 PAs.
IF - Christian Colon -
Maybe it's just "Back-Up QB Syndrome," but Colon's actually been popping his fair share of singles. No one would dream of suggesting that he start over Zobrist, but if the latter gets more OF appearances you could do worse than giving Colon more looks at second.
IF- Cheslor Cuthbert -
I was going to say "not enough PAs" but the dude's hit .256/.326/.426 in X PAs now and I'm feeling generous about sample size enough to include him with The Arrowed this week. Cuthbert's also been fine afield when he's been asked to sub in.
Not Ranked Due To Lack Of PAs: Jhonny Gomes (17 PAs with Royals), Francisco Pena, Drew Butera, Terrance Gore
The Royals send Yordano Ventura the bump tonight, while taking their hacks against Roenis Elias for the Seattle Mariners. Happy Wednesday, and let's win a darn game.