Today is the final day of the regular season. All the playoff teams are locked in, though some of them have one final chance to alter their seeding. None of that, of course, matters to the Royals. The Royals are locked in as the second-worst team in the league no matter the results of today’s matchups. Still, that doesn’t mean that today’s game has no meaning for the team. Here are a few of the things to keep an eye one.
Zack Greinke’s likely final start
There have been a couple of false starts, in each of his last two outings fellow players and coaching personnel have spoken about Greinke as if that was going to be it, but circumstances and the team have conspired together to ensure he pitches this one last game in 2023, and likely for his career.
It hasn’t been a good season for Greinke by any means, but none of that should take away from what could very possibly be a Hall of Fame career. The only disappointment today is that the Royals could have given Greinke an opportunity to stand at the plate and take a few last swings, as well, but declined to do so.
Bobby Witt Jr. stands one steal away from a 30-50 season
Ronald Acuña made history earlier this season when he became the first player to ever hit 30-plus home runs and steal 70-plus bases in the same season. Bobby Witt Jr. finally made history as the first Royal to hit 30 home runs and steal 30-plus bases, but he actually stands at 49 bases right now. One more will give him that nice round number and make him the only Royal in history with a 30-30, 30-40, or 30-50 season. He made the attempt last night but was thrown out. If he reaches base again today, expect him to be running early.
Royals record for losses
Last night’s loss means the Royals have tied their all-time record for losses in a season at 106. If they lose again today they’ll set a new record for futility. I’m sure they’d rather avoid that.
Many of you will want to just float on good feelings as the season ends and that’s your prerogative. If you’re one such person, do not continue reading.
The omission of Greinke in today’s starting lineup is even more infuriating when they managed to include Matt freaking Duffy as the Designated Hitter in the nine-hole. Also, I know that Drew Waters is hurt and Nelson Velázquez mysteriously left in the middle of last night’s game with no official word from the team on his status, but that still leaves Nick Loftin and Logan Porter on the team’s bench so that Duffy, who bears no blame for this choice but will absolutely not be with the team next year, can get one last start.
Even if Duffy gets six hits, goes for the cycle, and leads the Royals to one final victory there can be no justification for including him in this, the final lineup of the season, over two guys who actually have a possible future with the club and will be fighting for roster spots next season and are infinitely more interesting to fans. Even considering Duffy’s role in aiding the Giants’ victory over the Royals in the 2014 World Series, this might be the most upset I’ve ever been about his presence at Kauffman Stadium for October baseball.