Wade Davis

Wake Me Up When September Begins

I’m not actually going to sleep all day or anything, but September has a chance to be a really fun month for the Royals. For one thing, you may have heard that they’re actually in the race, so rather than watching prospects prepare for the 2017 season, the final month is going to matter for the fourth consecutive season. That alone is pretty cool. Now we get to look to what lies ahead for the month, which includes a push for the postseason along with minor leaguers who can make an impact on the big league club.

Let’s start with that.

The biggest addition to the September roster is going to be Wade Davis, who pitched a perfect rehab inning with the Storm Chasers and did so on 15 pitches, 13 of them strikes. That’s solid. Adding him to a bullpen performing so well already will make that unit as good as its been all season. Being able to push down the back of the bullpen will allow the Royals to turn games into five or six inning affairs with the starting rotation. The starters have been great lately, but with that deep of a bullpen, Ned Yost may not have to push quite as hard.

The bullpen will likely also include a few guys who have seen big league time this season. That means Scott Alexander, Brooks Pounders and maybe Alec Mills will return. None are impact pitchers, but they can all help the staff soak up some innings and maybe even get some big outs along the way.

Edit: Scott Alexander was called up prior to the series finale against the Yankees after Chien-Ming Wang was placed on the disabled list. He won’t be a September call-up after all. 

Edit 2: And now Pounders has been called up as well with Christian Colon getting caught in the roster crunch and heading to Omaha until their season ends on September 5th. 

What I’m most curious about in the bullpen (or maybe the rotation) is how the Royals handle Kris Medlen and Jason Vargas. I didn’t expect Vargas to even have a shot to pitch in the big leagues this year, but his rehab clock is up on September 6, so the Royals will either have to take him off the disabled list or pull him from his rehab stint. He hasn’t been very good with a 7.88 ERA in two Omaha starts, but he might be up in spite of that. The decision on Medlen doesn’t have to come until September 15, but that’s still before end of the season. Like Vargas, he wasn’t very good in his first couple appearances in Omaha, but he has three scoreless innings in his last two outings in relief, so maybe he can contribute.

One other name on the pitching staff to watch for is Nick Tepesch. He’s nothing special, but is a live arm. Of course, if he is DFA’d to make room for someone else on the 40-man, he won’t be part of the conversation, so just keep him in mind.

We could also potentially see Miguel Almonte, but man has he been rough this year. I’m not so sure the Royals will get him to the big leagues, possibly opting just to get this season behind him as fast as possible.

Offensively, I imagine we’ll see some guys we’ve seen before in Kansas City as well, assuming health. Whit Merrifield, Tony Cruz and Reymond Fuentes are all good bets to be up next month. We likely won’t see much of Cruz, but Fuentes and Merrifield could play decent-sized roles. We’ll also see Terrance Gore get to be a big leaguer for the third straight September (and he’s seen time before September, so he fits here).

A couple players are on the 40-man roster, but haven’t seen big league time. One has had a very nice season while the other, well, hasn’t. Jorge Bonifacio has had the nice season, hitting for a decent average and a lot of power. Reports are that he’s looked a little better defensively as well, so that’s a plus. I don’t see a reason not to call him up, but the Royals have done that before. The other is Bubba Staring who has had a less than good season between Double and Triple-A. I suppose they could call him up to play defense and run the bases, but I also wouldn’t count on that.

Oh. And Ramon Torres, a middle infielder, is on the 40-man roster. I mean, I guess he could get called up and play some defense or something. Anyway, moving on.

There are two players not currently on the 40-man who have a shot to be on the September roster. One is the guy they acquired just two days ago, Daniel Nava. I don’t think he’ll be an impact bat or anything, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a veteran who can draw a walk. No, Yost doesn’t pitch hit, but maybe he can go up there for Gore after Gore pinch ran for Kendrys Morales. The other is Hunter Dozier, who has had a monster year between Northwest Arkansas and Omaha. He’ll have to be added to the 40-man roster anyway after the season, so the Royals could just do that now if they want to. Of course, there are some roster maneuvers needed to make that happen, but there’s pretty much always a way. I’d like to see Dozier get a shot personally.

So those are your callups.

Since all we can think about now is what the Royals have to do to make the playoffs, let’s take a look at how that can happen. With the recent trends, I’m not sure they actually have to get to 90 wins to take the second Wild Card. Still, let’s pretend like that’s the case. With last night’s loss, the Royals need to finish 21-9 to get there. With 18 home games out of 30, that certainly helps. With 14 games left against teams below .500 and 12 games against the Tigers/Indians, they have a shot to make up that ground.

I’ve said this many times, but I’ll repeat it here because that’s okay to do. If they just win every single series without sweeping one, they’ll get to 90 wins. Not that it’s easy, but it certainly seems like something that could happen. If they don’t win every series, they’ll need to find a sweep somewhere or hope that 90 wins really isn’t the number they need.

I would think it would be very difficult to win all nine series they have remaining. They’ll need to take both against Detroit, I’d think, but they can probably stand to lose a series against the Indians if they can really go to town during their 14-game stretch against the Twins, White Sox and A’s. When I say go to town, I mean something like 12-2. That would allow them to just go 9-7 in the other 16 games, which seems like a very real possibility.

So yeah, go ahead and beat the Yankees, but September is where the fun happens. I have visions of Gore scoring from first on singles and Davis closing out games and Bonifacio maybe even hitting a big home run. We’ve done the Septembers with nothing to play for. The way the Royals do it now is much more fun.

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