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Gamethread XL: White Sox at Royals

Wake me up when September ends.

Alex Gordon following through on a swing Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

I know, in my head, that the Royals have played a variety of teams this summer. But in my heart it feels like they only play the Twins and White Sox and lose every game. It’s getting pretty old, if I’m being honest. Why can’t we play the Pirates, Reds, Brewers, or Cardinals?

Of course, the more pressing problem than the Royals’ opponents - because, let’s face it, they’re going to lose a lot to whoever they play - is the lineup construction. Mike Matheny has done a lot of good things with the lineups. Batting Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler second and third is analytically sound. However there’s one thing he keeps doing that undercuts whatever good might happen there even more often than the Royals play the Twins and White Sox.

He keeps putting Alex Gordon in the lineup.

At the beginning of the year the Royals had three young outfielders who needed to be given playing time in order to see if they could turn the corner and show enough to become the regular starters. Alex Gordon kept starting. When Hunter Dozier returned and the Royals refused to bench Nicky Lopez or Adalberto Mondesi, Alex Gordon kept starting. They traded for and promoted Edward Olivares. He’s gone four-for-ten with a double, two runs, and two RBIs since joining the club. Alex Gordon keeps starting.

I love Alex. I will never forget the home run he hit in the ninth inning of the first game of the 2015 World Series that set the tone for how the whole dang thing would go. He is not a part of the future. He hasn’t been for years. He hasn’t even been a part of any kind of attempt at a successful present. Every time I write about how he needs to get benched he hits another home run but I stand by my words.

Maybe Matheny will go all-in on intelligent lineup design, next year. But it’s frustrating watching him make the same mistake that made me angriest with Ned Yost. Then again, maybe it’s a Dayton Moore commandment; after all, the Royals inexplicably traded away their outfielder who was hitting the best outside of Dozier and Whit Merrifield instead of giving him more playing time. And Alex Gordon keeps starting.

Oh well. At least we’ll get to see if Kris Bubic can build on his last start. He’ll have to if the Royals have any hope of beating Lucas “No-Hitter” Giolito.