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Game LXXXI: Royals at Astros

The season comes halfway home

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals are set to play game #81 today, the exact halfway point of the season. April was too early to evaluate this team, we were told that even May was too early. But surely the halfway point is enough sample to call this team what it is.

It’s hard to think of a more disastrous 81 game start to a season than this one. Only the 2004-2006 and 2018-2019 teams have been worse through 80 games than this one. All of those teams went on to lose 100 games.

But we all knew those teams would be bad. The 2004 team had the residual effects of a weirdly magical 2003 season that saw the Royals post a winning record for the first time in a decade but most knowledgeable fans knew those 83 wins didn’t match the talent on the roster.

Seasons like 2011 and 2012 come to mind, haunted by the front office’s premature “Our Time” branding, but even as those teams were disappointing, they still weren’t this bad. The 2012 team had won six more games than this squad through 80 games.

And at that point, we were still learning about how Dayton Moore ran his organization. That was the first wave of prospects and the first time competitiveness was supposedly an option. This year is different. We know all the organizational flaws and see them failing this team again.

This roster has have players who have been top 100 prospects in the last three seasons. The organization told us they were going to be competitive. Instead, their noncompetitiveness has made even the most pessimistic preseason Royals fan seem optimistic.

Shaun Newkirk’s preseason prediction for Kansas City’s record was the worst of all Royals Review writers at 74-88. The Royals are on pace for 101 losses. The Athletics are the only team with a worse record in the American League, a team actively trying to lose.

The first half of the season has been bad. But hey, there is still one game left! Kris Bubic takes the mound, who continues to struggle with his pitch count. He has made it through six innings just one time since the beginning of June, having thrown no fewer than 87 pitches in those six starts.

He’ll face Justin Verlander who is coming off an absolutely dominant performance against the Mets, pitching eight shutout innings in New York, giving up just two hits. Verlander has faced the Royals 45 times in his career, more than all but two teams, but this will be his first start against Kansas City since July 24, 2017.

Here are your lineups for today’s matinee action. Bobby Witt Jr. is out of the lineup for the second consecutive game after a HBP to the hand on Tuesday, against his own wishes.