Since the All-Star Break, the Royals are 8-1.
Oh… I forgot the Indians are in the league. Those weren’t exhibition games? Apparently they count.
Fine, let’s begin again.
Since the All-Star Break, the Royals are 8-1. Against the Indians, they’re 1-3. Apparently, you have to add those numbers together so the actual record is 9-4 since the Break. Even after Thursday night’s drag of a 14 inning game, that’s a quality start to the de facto second half.
The Indians are difficult. (How worried are they in Minnesota? The Twins had an 11 game lead on June 15. It’s now down to two.) And it’s good for the Royals to have a reality check before they go on a tear of winning 15 out of 20 or some such nonsense.
It was the Major League debut of necessity for Josh Staumont on Thursday. As the innings rolled by and the bullpen options dwindled, it pretty much guaranteed that Ned Yost would have to call on Staumont at some point. It was about as crazy as you would expect. Ultimately, it was successful.
Staumont pitched two innings and faced 11 batters without giving up a run. I’ll take a moment as you read that again.
I thought that those numbers, taken together, would be kind of a rare occurrence in baseball. I thought wrong. Staumont’s outing was the fifth time this season that a pitcher went exactly two innings, faced 11 or more batters and didn’t give up a run. (It actually happened twice yesterday as Logan Allen accomplished the feat for the Padres in a game against the Mets.)
His pitch chart is about what you would expect from a random Staumont outing.
If the Royals ever decided to stretch him out as a starter, that chart would look like a Jackson Pollock.
A few years ago, when the Royals bullpen was stocked with an assortment of elite arms and a cyborg, the Wade Davis Experience was born. The genesis of that was how Davis seemed to put a batter or two on base before he would escape a jam. This feels different. Staumont was working with mid-90s heat, averaging around 94 mph, with that hammer curve. Overall, he threw 30 pitches and got three swinging strikes—one on the fastball and two on the curve. His fastest pitches were his first three fastballs, understandable given it was his debut.
The results were strong, given that he wriggled out of a bases loaded, one out jam in the 12th. But that outing from Staumont was exactly the type of white-knuckle ride we can expect.
Staumont’s debut marked the ninth time this year a player made his Major League debut for the Royals. I enjoyed this note from the Home Office:
Franchise record is 16 players making their MLB debut in 2004. Last year 12 did. https://t.co/qT5hs4rFSZ— Royals Review (@royalsreview) July 26, 2019
If you’re curious about the names making their debut in 2004... Just don’t. Seriously.
With the trade deadline creeping closer, and with the Royals in line to swing at least one deal and maybe a couple more, there will be room on the 40-man roster in the next week, so it’s not inconceivable they’re not finished with debuts this season. And while I didn’t mention that in my “Reasons to Watch in the Second Half” piece from a couple weeks ago, these debuts are kind of fun. And yes, they could be a reason to watch.
Since we last met in this space, the trade deadline has crept closer by three days with no movement. The odds remain the same with teams surely set to come calling for Jake Diekman as we get closer to next Wednesday. That is about as exciting as it’s going to get for the Royals and trades.
News from late Thursday have the Royals basically telling teams to forget about the possibility of adding Whit Merrifield. Again, I can understand the logic behind this mindset. For the moment. But it at least looks like we will revisit the Merrifield question this time next year.
The reports early Friday indicate the Royals are not willing to absorb salary in a trade of either Danny Duffy or Ian Kennedy. In related news, water is wet.
In the case of Duffy, MLB Trade Rumors makes the case that if the Royals were to shop the left-hander, they would be selling low. Although the same thing was said this time last year. At some point, the value is the value. This is the second consecutive season of underwhelming results, although the ERA has fallen about half a run to 4.32 and the walk rate has dropped from last year’s elevated 4.1 BB/9.
For Kennedy, even though he’s pitched really well in the ninth inning role, it’s understandable teams are wary, especially if they are expected to absorb the full contract. . The late inning track record just isn’t established. It’s too bad MLB ditched the waiver trade period in August. But if Kennedy keeps closing and closing well, the trade market could continue to develop for him over the winter.