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Royals Rumblings - News for March 29, 2019

If the Royals don’t fix the bullpen, there’s no way they’re going 162-0

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals
Peter G. Aiken

It’s a celebration of baseball and the Royals will remain undefeated until, at least, Saturday.

Yost had a bit of fun with letting Kyle Zimmer and Frank Schwindel know they had made the team:

Then manager Ned Yost told the Zimmer and infielder Frank Schwindel they were going to Omaha, where the Royals’ Triple-A farm team plays.

”You could see their heads down,” Yost recalled. “But I said afterwards, Omaha is going to get on a plane and go back to Arizona. We’re going to get on a plane and go to Kansas City. And you’re going to be on that plane.”

At the Star, Sam McDowell wrote about that story and more of Kyle Zimmer’s journey

He hasn’t seen a baseball game in Kansas City in five years. He sat in the stands in the 2014 World Series. His arm was wrapped in a sling, two days after his first surgery. “To think how far and how long of a road it’s been since then is kind of crazy,” he said. “I’m excited to be here and watch a game from a different vantage point.”

Pete Grathoff had the feel good story about Frank Schwindel

Schwindel’s parents and sister were expected to be at the game. Ditto for a college friend who surprised Schwindel. Two buddies from high school found a cheap flight to Lincoln, Neb., and were planning to drive to Kauffman Stadium.

He also looked at the highlights of SeatGeek’s MLB “map of baseball fandom”.

The Royals were the favorite team in 257 total counties in the United States, which was the fourth most among Major League Baseball teams. The Braves (515), Rangers (287) and Cardinals (286) were the only teams ahead of the Royals in terms of counties.

Joshua L. Payton at Royals Farm Report also documented Kyle Zimmer’s path to the major leagues.

Now, Zimmer has the final leg of the proverbial stool that will help him finally stand tall and achieve what he has always been capable of at the big league level – success. Many would argue throwing a single pitch in the big leagues will be enough for Zimmer to claim success. But I can’t limit my belief in Kyle Zimmer to simply making the big leagues. I believe Zimmer will dominate. After all, if there’s even the slightest chance, he’ll have the last laugh. Good luck Kyle!

Dull Veal Ax of RFR wished us a Happy Opening Day, listed some prospects to watch, and gave some predictions

The Carolina League won’t slow down the core in Wilmington. Seuly Matias, Nick Pratto, Kyle Isbel, MJ Melendez, and Brewer Hicklen will keep hitting, regardless of their environment, and all look for promotions to AA by July.

Jack Magruder at Forbes penned a small preview of the Royals season.

The X-Factor: Jorge Soler

Outfielder Jorge Soler appears to be ready to turn the corner after a herky-jerky start to a career that began when the Chicago Cubs signed him to a nine-nine-year — nine-year — $30,000,000 free agent contract in 2012 as a 20-year out of Cuba. Soler will always have some swing-and-miss in his bat, but he was off to the best start of his career in 2018 —18 doubles, nine homers, 28 RBIs in 61 games — before suffering a fractured left foot in mid-June that caused him to miss the rest of the season. He created more positive vibes with a big spring this year, hitting five homers with 18 RBIs and a .973 OPS. His bat would help compensate for the loss of Perez on a team that needs at least some power in its speed-based game.

Leigh Oleszczak posted a pair of stories at KC Kingdom:

Even Royals Blue had a couple of posts:

An ESPN listicle was billed as “The only Opening Day preview you need

Doolittle’s state of the Royals: The Royals went splat after a five-season run of solid play that included two pennants and Kansas City’s second World Series crown in 2015. Efforts to restock the farm system remain a work in progress but, in the meantime, the Royals are embarking on an interesting effort to swim against current analytical tides by assembling baseball’s fastest group of position players. Contention seems like a long shot, but the Royals can accomplish a lot by merely outrunning low expectations.

Passan’s inside intel: One of the best stories of the spring belongs to Kyle Zimmer, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft who has thrown 42⅓ innings since 2016 and didn’t pitch last year. Arm troubles looked to be the death of his career. Zimmer worked himself back into pitching shape at Driveline Baseball, and he looked the part of an elite reliever during spring training, allowing one run in 12⅔ innings while pumping a high-90s fastball and two good off-speed pitches. ... Two years after opening the season with a $143 million payroll, the Royals begin Opening Day under $100 million. More than $25 million of it is tied up in two players on the injured list (Danny Duffy and Salvador Perez), another $16.5 million for a pitcher demoted to the bullpen (Ian Kennedy) and $20 million more for a veteran in the final year of his contract (Alex Gordon).

Miller’s fun fact: Whit Merrifield led the American League in stolen bases last year and had an excellent 82 percent success rate, but he’s not exceptionally fast: His sprint speed was 50th last year. Adalberto Mondesi is exceptionally fast -- 11th in sprint speed -- and, with 32 steals in just 291 plate appearances, he would have led the majors in steals if he’d played a full season. The Royals like to run, and under first-year first-base coach Mitch Maier, they ran successfully. Which is all prologue to this: Billy Hamilton is now their everyday center fielder. If Hamilton is ever going to break the basepaths, this is his chance.

Going into yesterday, Mike Axisa of CBS Sports ranked the Opening Day pitching matchups. You’ll never guess who was number last!

16. Carlos Rodon, White Sox vs. Brad Keller, Royals

Including Rodon this year, the White Sox have had a left-hander on the mound in 17 of the last 20 Opening Days. You can largely thank Mark Buehrle and Chris Sale for that. Rodon, who is suddenly the grizzled veteran of the rotation, returned from shoulder surgery last year to throw 120 2/3 innings with a 4.18 ERA. Keller was a Rule 5 Draft find for the Royals last year. He started the season in the bullpen before moving into the rotation, and finished the year with a 3.08 ERA in 140 1/3 innings. Keller will look to show his low strikeout style (6.2 K/9) can work long-term this year. Both he and Rodon are making their first career Opening Day starts. listicled a fun fact about each Opening Day game.

Royals 5, White Sox 3

Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi showed off his wheels as he raced to leg out a pair of triples, with Statcast timing them at 11.10 and 11.08 seconds -- faster than any three-bagger a Royals player hit in 2018. Mondesi became only the ninth player since at least 1908 -- and just the third since 1951 -- to smack two triples on Opening Day. The last to do it was Houston’s Justin Maxwell in 2013, and the Royals’ Tony Pena also tripled twice in ‘07.

From other Opening Days:

Lorenzo Cain continues to be awesome! Man, I miss that guy!

His catch was the last out of the game, preserving a 5-4 win for the NL Royals Brewers. Moose homered earlier in the game so, naturally, he is on pace for 162 home runs. So is Brewers starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin and pitcher homers continue to be of the more fun moments in baseball (and one that the poor DH-filled AL lacks).

Bryce Harper was hitless in his Phillies debut but he did sport some awesome Phillie Phanatic cleats.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies
Solid shoe game
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Zimmerman took a perfect game into the 7th for the Tigers and Detroit won in extra innings. Though all was not perfect about the game:

Originally slated for an unusual 3:37 p.m. start in Toronto, apparently someone forgot to use their United States to Canadian time decoder ring and got confused. Twenty minutes after the initially announced time — with both of the fanbases up in arms over the delay — it was re-announced that the game would begin at a much-later 4:05 p.m. The first pitch was eventually thrown four minutes later than the re-announced mark. This is how space probes to Mars get lost, folks.

It was not a great day for former Royal Zack Greinke. The Dodgers hit an Opening Day record 8 home runs, including 4 off of Zack, in their 12-5 destruction of the Diamondbacks.

Former Royal farmhand and Rule V loss Elvis Luciano is the first player on an MLB roster born in the 21st century.

In addition to baseball having its first player born in the 21st century, there are officially no more players remaining from the 1990s, which means there are no more players remaining from that century. With Adrian Beltre’s retirement last year and Bartolo Colon’s continued free agency, there is not a single player on an active roster who played prior to 2000. This is the first time there hasn’t been a player who played in the 1900s since, well, the 1800s.

Speaking of young, Fernando Tatis Jr. made some history yesterday in his Major League debut with the Padres.

Tatis was 20 years, 85 days old Thursday and became the youngest player to appear in an Opening Day game since 19-year-old Adrian Beltre in 1999. It’s worth noting that Tatis was born in January of that year. Tatis got his first career hit in his first at-bat, and tacked on another single later in the game, ultimately going 2-for-3. With that, he was the youngest player with multiple hits on Opening Day since 19-year-old Robin Yount in 1975. Tatis and the Padres beat the Giants 2-0.

The Mets-Nats game yesterday was only the 2nd time in Opening Day history that both starters got double digit strikeouts (ed note: considering all the aces going on Opening Day, that’s staggering to me).

The other was nearly 50 years ago, on April 7, 1970. The Orioles’ Dave McNally and the Indians’ Sam McDowell both reached the mark, with McNally striking out 13 in a complete-game win over the Tribe and McDowell, who struck out 11 in his 6 1/3 innings.

Fangraphs with 3 features right before Opening Day:

With so much baseball to talk about, it’s rerun day in the games department. With this week’s release of Final Fantasy VII on the Nintendo Switch, we’ll use the boss battle theme “Fight On!”