Here we are. The halfway mark of the season. The Royals have an opportunity to enter the second half either a game above .500 or a game below. Yesterday was a mix of the mid-2017 Royals and the early - winning one game with an impressive come-back and lots of scoring while losing the other with a combination of amazingly incompetent defense and a bullpen explosion. Because the Royals had a come-back on Friday night they have already guaranteed that they will not lose a series to the Twins for the first time but a win today would go a long way to showing how the team has turned around.
The Twins will send Hector Santiago out to the mound; Hector used to dominate the Royals but struggled against them mightily last year after being traded to the Twins. In his first start against the Royals this year during opening week he collected a win by allowing only a single run across 5 innings. In his next start he allowed 3 runs in 5 innings, but his offense bailed him out late for a 4-3 victory. He has struggled overall this season, walking 4 batters per 9 innings while his strike out rate has rebounded since after the trade, but it is still well below his career norms. In his last three starts he's compiled a 10.97 ERA including a rain-shortened outing against Boston where he allowed 2 runs in 2 innings. He has walked 8 in 10.2 innings over those starts but you know the Royals are swinging at pretty much everything, so that probably won't help them much, today.
The Royals will use their eleventh starter of the season today as Travis Wood leaves the friendly confines of the bullpen for the stark desert of the mound. For comparison the Royals used 9 starters all of last year, 10 in all of 2015, and 8 in all of 2014. Travis Wood has sort of earned this opportunity by pitching much better lately, including 7 straight scoreless appearances. He was also forced into this role by the injuries of planned starters and the various ineffectiveness of the rookies the Royals have tried to use instead. It is anyone's guess as to whether that success will carry over; the only sure thing seems to be that the Yost will demand he pitch until his arm falls off after the bullpen was forced to eat 10 innings, yesterday.
Royals lineup. pic.twitter.com/CZnHdKaXQO— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) July 2, 2017
7/2 @Twins lineup at KC— MLB Lineups (@mlblineups) July 2, 2017
If the Royals win today they will have had a winning first half and be tied for second place in the division. They will be no more than three games back of the division and 1.5 of the wild card. They would have just completed a dominant weekend against the spiraling Twins. These are the things I think most Royals fans expected or hoped this season would look like at this point. Despite the 10-20 start it can all still happen. All they have to do is win, today.