We are into the final 42-game stretch of the season, where we may begin to see the logjam for the Wild Card race begin to thin out a bit. The Royals enter this stretch 61-59, a half-game back of the Angels for the final playoff spot. We know the Royals have the easiest remaining schedule out of any Wild Card contender, so what is the road to the playoffs? What are the key series? Let us take a look at the upcoming games.
August 18-24 vs. Indians (3), Rockies (3)
The Royals begin a six-game homestand this weekend against the Indians and Rockies, the teams with the best record out of any remaining opponent for the Royals. The Royals have fared well against the Indians this year, going 5-4 against the team they currently trail in the standings by 5.5 games. The two teams still have 10 more games against each other this year, so if the Royals want to make a run in the division, they still have their opportunity. Old friend Greg Holland and the Rockies visit Kauffman for the first time since 2014. The Rockies got off to a hot start, but are just 20-27 since June 20.
August 25-27 at Indians (3)
A quick trip to Cleveland begins a stretch where the Royals play 20 out of 30 games on the road. The Indians have been much worse at home than on the road, going 31-27 at Progressive Field. The Saturday game will be a national telecast on FS1.
August 28-30 vs. Rays (3)
In my mind, the Rays and Royals are the two best teams on paper gunning for the last Wild Card. Playing the Rays at Kauffman for a quick homestand could give the Royals some separation. The Royals haven’t lost the season series to the Rays since 2011, going 28-9 against them since then.
September 1-6 at Twins (3), Tigers (3)
This begins a stretch of 13 straight games against the three worst teams in the Central Division - the Twins, Tigers, and White Sox. After a rough start to the season against those teams, the Royals have righted the ship and are 18-20 against them. The Twins have 15 games in the 15 days leading up to their series against the Royals, so their already thin pitching staff could be depleted. The Wednesday, September 6 game against the Tigers will air nationally on FS1.
September 7-13 vs. Twins (4), White Sox (3)
The Twins have kind of been a pesky gnat that won’t go away this season, despite not looking like a very good team, just as they were in 2015. If they are still in it by this series, the Royals need to put them away for good. The White Sox are in free-fall, having dropped 27 of their last 35. The Chicago series concludes with two odd weekday day games, one of which was changed to accommodate a U2 concert.
September 14- 25 at Indians (4), Blue Jays (3), White Sox (3), Yankees (1)
The Royals embark on their longest road-trip of the year, playing 11 games in 12 days in four different cities. The trip to Cleveland for a four-game series could be Kansas City’s last chance at the division. Following that series is the last off-day of the regular season for the Royals on Monday, September 18. The Blue Jays have hung around the periphery of the Wild Card race, but by mid-September they could be packing it in for the year. The Royals end the road trip by flying from Chicago on Sunday to New York for one game, a Monday afternoon make-up at Yankee Stadium, before flying home the next day for a Tuesday night matchup.
September 26 - October 1 vs. Tigers (3), Diamondbacks (3)
Yep, the Royals end the season against their bitter rivals from Phoenix, the Arizona Diamondbacks. The season ends with 13 games in 13 days, including this six-game homestand. The Royals have been just 5-9 in interleague play, and are in danger of having their first losing record against the National League in a season since 2013.
How will the Royals fare in these 42 remaining games, 22 of which will be at home? Will it be enough to make the post-season?