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Game LXXV: Royals at Rays

A homecoming for the skipper

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but things aren’t looking good for Kansas City baseball these days. As a kid, I lived in a world where the Royals were so bad that they didn’t get any national media coverage. I wasn’t ever watching them on Sunday Night Baseball or seeing their highlights in the morning on ESPN.

This team has so far surpassed those teams in futility that they are getting national coverage for it.

At this point in 2005, Kansas City was carrying a six-game losing streak into the Metrodome for a series against the Twins. They had lost eight of nine overall. That team was still five games better than the current version. The 2004 version was nine games better.

Something has gone horribly wrong. They are just barely better than an Athletics team whose best player is Brent Rooker, a guy the Royals DFA’d.

The have won just three games this month, haven’t won three consecutive games all season, and have a starting pitcher that has lost 11 of his 15 starts, without a win sprinkled in. As I said, things are bad.

And new manager Matt Quatraro is about to have that sinking feeling you get going to your 20-year high school reunion with that crypto scheme not looking as good as it did at your 10-year reunion. If Major League Baseball rotated on an axis, Quatraro went from one pole to the other this offseason.

He left a team the best team in baseball in 2023 and a team that has just three losing seasons since 2008 for the worst team in baseball in 2023 that has just three winning seasons since 2008. He joined the Royals to help bring the Rays model to Kansas City. So far, and without much that he can do about it, that has not happened.

Tonight, he returns to Tampa for the first time to visit his former team that is pacing for 109 wins. Kansas City will send Jose Cuas to the mound for his first career start. He is the sixth opener that Quatraro has used this season, with openers starting 15 of the Royals 74 games overall.

They will be opposed by 2018 draftee Shane McClanahan. In Tom Verducci’s piece, he astutely observed that McClanahan has a higher career rWAR (9.0) than the 79 pitchers Kansas City signed or drafted between 2016 and 2019 combined (8.4). That includes the likes of Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, and Kris Bubic.

As noted, things are not good.