Alright, you guys.
Sometimes, you all like when I’m super hard and hyperbolic about the Royals. Sometimes you don’t like it. I’m going to try to split the gap with you today and go down the middle.
But I promise I’m not being exaggerative or hyperbolic when I say that Mike Minor had the worst start of his life tonight, and the Royals got clobbered by one of the worst teams in baseball. It was an ugly 9-4 loss for Kansas City tonight in its first-ever game at Globe Life Field.
The Texas Rangers, who are not good, looked like the late 90s Yankees against Minor. A career-worst nine runs were hung on the Royals starter. His trend of allowing every damn person that gets on base against him to score continued. I’m not even sure if Minor has been /bad/ this year, but I know he hasn’t been very good either, and the floor totally fell out on Friday night.
It astonishes me how every year in baseball, the offenses get worse and worse, yet the Royals’ rotation gives up more and more runs. How is that possible? It is 2021 and nobody can hit the ball around the major leagues, runs are at an all-time low, and a no-hitter gets thrown every other day. Despite that, Minor and Brad Keller, the two supposed top starting pitchers in the Royals’ rotation, have ERAs north of 5 and 6 respectively. I don’t get it.
Here’s what I do know. I believe the Royals are more talented than their 33-41 record indicates. They’re now a season-worst eight games under .500. The coaching is definitely questionable (that thing where Cal Eldred came out and talked to his starter immediately before said starter gave up a big RISP hit happened again), and the development has not been good. But Keller and Minor have been good in their careers and they’ve both been... not good this year. Brady Singer is regressing. None of the young guys, aside from Kris Bubic half the time, look like they’re anywhere close. Dayton Moore always says that starting pitching is the currency of baseball, and he hasn’t been able to draft starting pitchers at all in his 15-year stint as GM. When you can’t draft starters, you better hit on the ones you find in other ways, and nothing they’re trying is working here in 2021.
Minor’s final line: 5.0 innings, 11 hits, 9 runs, 79 pitches. He gave up 13 baserunners and got 15 outs, which, yikes. Meanwhile, Texas start Dane Dunning, who entered with similar stats on the season, rolled right through five innings of two-run ball.
There was an especially hideous sequence in the fourth where Whit Merrifield threw a ground ball into the dugout and Hunter Dozier dove for (and missed badly) a line drive in left field within 30 seconds of each other. The defense wasn’t good behind Minor. For some reason, they’re doing whatever they can to get Dozier’s bat in the lineup by playing him like a utility guy.
Again I say: please sit Dozier on the bench for a couple of weeks. He has an option left. Stop running him out there every day. Jorge Soler looked lost too, as he struck out in each of his first three plate appearances. Dozier and Soler, are, statistically, the worst two players in the AL by WAR this year. It’s not really that close, either. They should not be playing every day. I know they got back-to-back hits with two outs in the ninth. They’re still brutal.
The Royals actually scored first in this game, when Whit Merrifield socked a deep triple that scored Nicky Lopez in the third. They led 1-0, fell behind 4-1, and then scored a second run in the fifth on an RBI double by Carlos Santana. Salvador Perez got really close to a three-run homer in the next at-bat, but it was tracked down at the wall, and the Royals didn’t threaten until the very end. Soler and Dozier somehow had back-to-back hits, and Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run single to score them. 9-4.
Kansas City is now 3-14 in its last 17 games at Texas. They don’t do well in Arlington.
Another weird thing: Danny Duffy got an inning of bullpen work. Huh? I have no idea what Mike Matheny is doing. But Duffy was sharp, putting up a zero and making a nice defensive play to end the seventh. I do not know why he pitched, but he was good.
What I do know: this is unacceptable. The Royals are 17-32 since the 16-9 start. That’s a full third of the season now that they’ve been 15-under. Firing Eldred and Terry Bradshaw won’t make bad baseball players good, but they need to send a message that this isn’t going to be accepted going forth. I think they should send Dozier down. Edward Olivares is absolutely raking in the minors and he can’t play up here. With Benintendi on the IL, I think Olivares is probably the best outfield option this team has. And the Royals started both Dozier and Soler in the outfield tonight. It’s like they’re personally trying to screw him over.
Dayton Moore has put together a roster that isn’t good (they’re not this bad, but they’re not really that good, either), but he’s preached about having all of this young talent brewing in the minors. The 2021 Royals are the fourth-oldest team in baseball. I couldn’t believe it when I read it. I know that guys like Minor and Santana are pushing that number up and they won’t be here long, but acting like this team is just a fountain of youth isn’t accurate at all. The rotation is a disaster, and unless some of those top pitching prospects start pitching well (or even decently), it’s going to be very hard for this team to contend in the AL Central in the next few years.
Tomorrow: the series continues at 3:05 pm. The starting pitcher has not yet been announced.