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Royals Rumblings - News for May 11, 2017

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Try to be better

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Kansas City Royals Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

Baseball Prospectus KC’s David Lesky looks at how good Joakim Soria has been:

Using his changeup more has helped with two things. The first is that he’s been a ground ball machine this year with a 65.6 percent ground ball rate. That’s helped him to coax three double plays this season. So that’s the easy to part. The other side of it is that the extra use is probably helping the other pitches play up. He’s increased the swing and miss on the fastball by about six percent this season. The one thing he’s been doing that can’t be explained by the changeup is that he’s been getting more horizontal movement on his fastball. There are some changes in the way data is gathered, so this may just be a blip, but it’s worth watching. His release point hasn’t changed enough to make this big of an impact. He has, however, increased his average spin rate on his fastball.

Last season, he averaged about 2,187 RPM on it. This year, he’s averaging about 2,273 RPM. That’s a pretty big increase and shows the extra movement, but if we’re wondering about its sustainability, the why might be as important as the what.

Clark Fosler tries to suss out how many games the Royals can be under .500 at Memorial Day and still conceivably make the playoffs.

In my feeble mind, the first goal of contending baseball is assembling a group that you believe can get to 87 wins. That’s an arbitrary number, but one that certainly puts a team in the hunt. From there, as the season unfolds, you adjust. Some years you go get Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto and others you ship off Carlos Beltran, but deciding when you go which direction is the trick. When is it too early to give up versus too late to get value?

You can make the case – and there is a segment of Royals’ fandom that may or may not believe this team really won a World Series – that believes the Royals are already tardy when it comes to selling. I do not agree with that mindset, but I will also acknowledge that Dayton Moore might be remiss to think the trading deadline is decision day. Listen, if two months of Lorenzo Cain gets you two minor league players, then four months might get you three. Sure, that third guy might be a journeyman or a total flyer, but sometimes those guys turn into Ben Zobrist. Those types of jackpots admittedly don’t happen often, but I’ll take three lottery tickets over two every day of the year.

Still, the question is when? To me and to many others (most of them old, like me), Memorial Day is something of your first benchmark. I went out a touch further and took a look at how many wins teams that ended up with 88 or more victories had on June 1st.

Jake Junis wasn’t around for long:

"I found out [Monday] around 5 [p.m.] that I was going to be coming here, but I didn't know if I was going to get activated or not so I was just hanging out until I flew out at 1 a.m. and got here at 9, kind of hung out till 10:30 and got notified that I'd be active [for Tuesday's game]," Junis said. "I immediately shut the phone off and tried to get a couple hours sleep before I came to the ballpark."

Junis, in just his second big league appearance and his first since making his debut on April 18, was called into action in the 11th inning against the Rays with the score tied at 6. Junis was the sixth Royals pitcher to enter the contest as both teams' bullpens neared depletion.

"You know that we've got just one pitcher left besides our closer and they've got one pitcher left, and they're both young guys," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Just hold the fort and give us a chance to get at their young guy, and that's what he did."

"It was all adrenaline getting into a big situation like that," said Junis, who has been used primarily as a starter in his Minor League career.

Seth Maness and Al Alburquerque are in; Christian Colon and Peter O’Brien are out:

"This was a decision that could have, quite frankly, been made out of Spring Training," Yost said. "We wanted to hold on as long as we could to see if we could get it to work. We just feel like we had other options."

Yost said there was still a possibility that Colon, who scored the winning run in the 2014 American League Wild Card Game, could remain with the club if it is unable to work out a trade. If the middle infielder clears waivers and does not request his release, he can accept an assignment to Omaha after seven days.

O'Brien, 26, batted .141 with five home runs and nine RBIs for the D-backs in 2016, but he did not appear in a game for the Royals this season. He was hitting .162 with three home runs and six RBIs for Omaha.

At FanGraphs—soon to be renamed ThamesGraphs—Travis Sawchik looks at how boredom affected Eric Thames’s path back to the majors.

At the Hardball Times, Mark McCarter learns what cricket is.

The A’s really aren’t making the most of their chances.

The Orioles are thumbing their noses at projected wins again.

At BP, Aaron Gleeman looks at the surprising five hitters (out of seven) outperforming their 90th percentile projections. There are no Royals here.

Cleveland’s owner said that the Chief Wahoo issue will be addressed “within a couple of years.”

MLB is investigating the Dodgers front office for discriminating against a war veteran.

Manny Ramirez is still hanging dong in Japan.

Dakota Access Pipeline has a leak and it’s not yet fully operational.

The worst of this past season in the EPL.

Donald Glover is bringing an animated Deadpool series to FXX.

The National’s new album, Sleep Well Beast, is on its way.

The song of the day is “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” by The National.