Is anyone else completely exhausted by the Royals this season? You may have heard that a baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint. Sorry for the spoiler if you didn’t know that already. When that’s talked about so much early in the year, it’s easy to roll your eyes knowingly and look ahead to how great the next six month will be with baseball almost every day. Last season, it didn’t feel like a marathon. It actually felt more like a party for seven months. Of course, if you party for seven months, you’re probably going to be tired (source: Johnny Manziel). Still, this year has been different.
This has really been a season for the Royalcoaster. Take a look at the stretches we’ve seen from this team. They’re not all the same length, but it’s a good look at the ridiculous hot and cold stretches we’ve seen. Here they are:
Add it all up and it gets them to 45-43 and just sort of hanging around both .500 and the playoff race.
I’m sure the players are more tired than we are as fans, but sometimes watching this team can be really tiring. What they have to go through to score runs is stressful. They can hit home runs (on pace for the ninth highest home run total in team history), but they don’t seem to do it with runners on base too often. When they do get runners on base, it sure feels like they hit into a double play a lot of the time. And when they do score runs in bunches, it usually takes something like eight hits in a row. They do keep the line moving at times, but it never really comes easy.
And that pitching. Oh boy. We’ve seen really good starts from the main five starters for the Royals season. We know it’s possible. If that’s the case, then why are we forced to worry anytime anybody other than Danny Duffy takes the mound? It’s because we’ve seen awful starts from all five main starters. Somehow the worst was actually made by Edinson Volquez. Who will ever forget his one inning against the Astros when he gave up 12 runs? I wish I could. Of course, Chris Young has given up home runs at a record pace while Yordano Ventura has spent the season doing a perfect Jeckyll and Hyde imitation. Then there’s Ian Kennedy, who looks like he’s underpaid at home and way overpaid on the road.
Thank goodness for Duffy.
So what’s next?
Now we relax a little bit. The Royals won’t hit into any double plays over the next four days (not for the Royals at least; Hosmer and Perez will both start the All-Star Game, as you know). They won’t give up any home runs. They won’t make a base running error. They also won’t put together seven straight hits. They won’t come back from six-run deficits. It’s a few days without the crazy ride that has been this season.
And that’s much needed because the second half figures to bring more of the same, but with the pressure of time dwindling as they look for their third straight trip to the postseason. Let’s take a look at the numbers to see what they’ll be facing.
Home Games – 39
Road Games – 35
Games vs. Central – 44
Indians – 9
Tigers – 12
White Sox – 10
Twins – 13
Games in Central Time – 51
Note: I know the Royals have already begun playing the second half of their schedule, but for the sake of convenience, I will refer to post-break games as “second half.” Deal with it.
In the second half, there will be some interesting stories to keep an eye on. It starts with the two series against the Tigers and Indians right after the break. If the Royals can win both series or even sweep one, they’ll be in a great position to compete for another division title. If they stumble out of the gate, they could be below .500 and maybe 10 games out of first place before the end of the month. Many will point to the 48-50 record in 2014 as a reason to not worry, but that’s the exception, not the rule.
After that, it’ll be interesting to see how the Royals handle the trade deadline. I don’t expect them to buy heavily, but I do think they’ll be in the market for a back of the rotation type starter. The rumors have them interested in a corner outfielder, but I find it hard to believe they’d trade any real value for someone who doesn’t have team control beyond this season.
And then, aside from the race to the playoffs, it’ll be interesting to see how the young players continue to develop. Is Cheslor Cuthbert really a piece for the future? What about Whit Merrifield? Maybe we’ll even get a chance to see Alec Mills, Matt Strahm and Jake Junis during the second half to get an idea of if the Royals need to make moves in free agency for the starting rotation.
There’s plenty of baseball and plenty of stories left. For now, it’s nice to have a break. The season is a marathon, ya know?