I joked on Twitter the other day that Royals announcer Ryan Lefebvre was so close to a realization when he talked about the tough schedules for two bad teams and the easy schedules for two good teams but the reality is that the Royals have had a bear of a schedule to deal with so far this season. They’ve played 45 games with 37 of them against teams currently in playoff position. They’ve contributed to that, sure, but the AL Central has some good teams and they’ve only had the chance to face one of the three NL Central teams under .500. So if the Royals are going to make a move to give you hope for 2021, this is the time. We’ll have the Pirates series preview later for you to get that ball rolling.
- Okay, so last night was awesome. I didn’t think there was much of anything the Royals could do to get me to not flip over to the Chiefs game, but Brady Singer carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning was just the thing. Early on, it sort of looked like it might be another slog for him as we’ve seen quite a bit this year, but once he found his command, he absolutely dominated. He still didn’t throw his changeup hardly at all, but he got eight swings and misses on his fastball and 10 on his slider and was generally just in control. Even the hit he allowed could have easily been an out with a straight up defensive alignment. But before anyone gets up in arms about a shift there, the shift probably saved the no-hitter with a nice play from Matt Reynolds who finally contributed something in his first four games with the team. But anyway, back to Singer. This is the guy the Royals have been expecting and while I think he’s had a tough draw with three straight starts against the Twins in the middle of his season, he’s been pretty underwhelming since his first two starts of the year. This one was anything but and after throwing 118 pitches, I might consider just calling it a season for him. I don’t think they will because he’s only thrown 48.1 innings now, and the six-man rotation probably gives them a chance for him to rest up. Still, I would love to see them get a few innings for someone like Daniel Lynch and if they’re going to give Jakob Junis continued opportunities to show off his worth for next season, I honestly wouldn’t hate if they let Singer end his year on a high note and get Lynch or Kowar a few big league innings. There are some roster considerations there, but I don’t think it’d be the worst idea.
- I really like Edward Olivares. That’s easy to say with him hitting .387 with a .677 slugging percentage, but I think he has a chance to be a useful piece on this team moving forward. He probably has some work to do in the outfield to stay in center field, but he’s definitely got the speed to handle it in Kauffman Stadium, and that would solve a lot of issues. One guy I keep thinking of with him is Oscar Mercado, who has had a brutal year for the Indians this season, but was really solid for them in 2019. The Royals have a lot of outfield options moving forward, but in a small sample, he’s shown more than just about anybody. I like his swing quite a bit, though his toe tap sort of concerns me a bit as that can cause some timing issues, but while it’s a short and compact swing, I think there’s some more power in there than we’ve seen at this point and I’m hopeful he can work with Mike Tosar and gang in the offseason to maybe try to unlock some of that. It might end up that he’s more a solution for the near future and someone you try to improve on, but as a return for a reliever with 25 or so games left, I think the Royals did well with this one. And if his presence gives the Royals some push to at least explore a Whit Merrifield deal to help the team beyond the next year or two then he shows even more value.
- I brought this up on Twitter a little bit ago when Josh Staumont struggled when throwing the second of back to back days. And then he came in on Sunday and struggled once again, on back to back days. His velocity was down, his iffy control was worse than usual and he just wasn’t effective. He’s pitched on back to back days five times. Okay, he’s actually done back to back four times and back to back to back once. In the games after the first of those, he’s allowed four earned runs on six hits in 3.2 innings with six walks and seven strikeouts. The rest of the time, he’s allowed just one unearned run with 24 strikeouts and seven walks in 14.1 innings. He converted to the bullpen in 2018, but was a starter his whole career before that, so it’s not terribly surprising that this is something he’s struggling with. I don’t really have an issue with Matheny continuing to use him on back to back days as a way to get him acclimated to the role, but one way or another, it’s something he’s going to have to figure out to be a key figure in the Royals bullpen when they’re competing again sometime soon. With his stuff, the Royals can absolutely work around him if he doesn’t figure it out, but he really can’t be a guy they count on regularly when teams know he’s not likely to be available. We’ll see how it goes. It’s not terribly important yet, so again, they can keep giving it a go, but it’s something to focus on for the future.
- One thing that good friend Clint Scoles has mentioned in the past and is probably a good subject for a longer piece is the roster crunch the Royals are going to be facing over the next 13 months or so. Between now and next November, the Royals are going to have to add at least a few of MJ Melendez, Nick Pratto, Khalil Lee, Kyle Isbel, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, Austin Cox, Jonathan Bowlan, Jon Heasley, Daniel Tillo, Dairon Blanco, Zach Haake, Yohanse Morel and Yefri Del Rosario to the 40-man roster. Obviously not all of them will be necessary since they’re not all likely to be selected in the Rule 5, but that’s 14 players. That’s an awful lot that even if they only feel the need to add seven or eight of them, they’ll need to make some moves. That’s one of the reasons that I think it does make a lot of sense to deal from their group of almost 40-man roster players to maybe bring in some offense that can be a long-term answer for them. I fear they’ll make a move that’s the offensive version of the Shields trade for a short-term fix, but there are a lot of decisions coming for this team. It’s also another reason why the next 15 games plus 2021 will be incredibly important for players to prove their worth because there’ll be a lot of 40-man spots that could be awfully vulnerable.