When the month of June began, I believed the Royals needed to either have a ridiculously dominant month or fall flat on their face. Nothing about a 14-12 month was good for the franchise. Even with a stretch of nine road games against middling to bad teams, things figured to be difficult, starting off with a series against the Indians followed by the Astros. They promptly went 4-3. Then you know about the 7-2 road trip and the series win over the Red Sox. So now they’re 13-6 so far in June with 13 games to go. Testing isn’t over. They still need to go at least 4-3 in those final seven games, but getting to the end of the month at .500 would be great.
- There has been a lot of talk about the unwritten rules of baseball this week. It stems mostly from Jarrod Dyson laying down a bunt in the sixth inning of a game where Justin Verlander was throwing a perfect game. You didn’t ask for my opinion, but that’s the great thing about Friday Notes. You’re going to get it anyway. I’ll quote Herm Edwards here. You play to win the game. Jarrod Dyson’s game is speed. He puts the ball on the ground, he runs real fast and sometimes he’s safe at first. The Mariners were down 4-0 in the sixth inning to a pitcher with an ERA in the mid-4s as a team scoring about 4.8 runs per game. Is a four-run deficit game over? Not in my eyes it isn’t. There is no time in which an opposing team should stop trying to do everything they can to create runs for their team. Okay, that’s not true. I did have that opinion until Hunter Samuels made a good point in the BP KC break room about it being like a 12-0 game or something. At that point, don’t bunt, there’s no need. But what Dyson did on Wednesday night is not only okay in my book, it’s encouraged.
- Travis Wood has an ERA of 6.51 this season, which is just terrible, but if you’ve been following this team for more than a couple weeks this season, you’ll know that it’s pretty impressive given where he was not too long ago. At the end of April, he had an ERA of 18.56. At the end of May, it was basically cut in half to 9.17. After allowing two runs in 1.2 innings on June 4, though, Wood has thrown 8.1 consecutive scoreless innings over six outings. And maybe more importantly, he’s walked just one while striking out six. So the question is what’s different. I don’t know if this is making a huge difference, but prior to his recent stretch, Wood had thrown four-seam fastballs more than half the time and very few two-seamers. He was throwing his cutter a little more than 20 percent of the time and throwing some changeups and breaking balls. Since, he’s reduced his four-seam fastball usage to about 33 percent and thrown two-seamers a bit more than 25 percent of the time. He’s also thrown his cutter a bit more while pulling back a lot on his changeup. Opponents haven’t gotten a hit on his cutter, slider or changeup and have hit just .167 against the two-seamer. Prior to that game on June 6, he’d allowed a .342 average and .463 slugging percentage on his fastball while his slider and curve were destroyed (in admittedly limited samples). Look, it’s just a few games, so we’ll see if he reverts, but he appears to have moved away from what wasn’t working in search of something else and he’s found a solution.
- On the flip side, Jorge Bonifacio has had some tough times since moving to the number two spot in the lineup. He’s still getting his home runs with three in 15 games, but he’s been striking out quite a bit. He’s been beaten with fastballs lately, but I had a hunch he was being pitched away with breaking stuff more. Strangely enough, that hunch was wrong. Pitchers have actually been more over the plate with the curves and sliders lately and stopped going to the spot low and away that they tried to attack in his first 40 or so games in the big leagues. I’m not entirely sure yet if that’s a good sign or bad, but I feel like part of why they stopped going to that well is because he just wasn’t swinging. My hunch is that he’s just going through a bit of a slump, but watching young players try to adjust is always really interesting because you can learn quite a bit from them. The guys who can’t adapt aren’t long for this league. The ones who can usually can find their way to a nice career. I think Bonifacio is a smart enough hitter with a good enough plan at the plate that he’ll adjust and get through this, but it’s worth watching, especially while Jorge Soler is raking in Omaha. Note: I am not suggesting they demote Bonifacio and bring up Soler right now. I’m just making the point there are alternatives if it should come to that.
- As Jeffrey Flannagan noted on Twitter the other day, a decision will have to be made on Brian Flynn by Sunday as that’s the end of his 30-day rehab assignment. That means he will need to be activated from the 60-day DL and placed back on the 40-man roster. Now, Flynn has had a rough go of it in Omaha with two especially bad outings, but he still needs a spot and the Royals currently don’t have one. I see a couple options. The first is that Hunter Dozier with a broken hamate bone could be transferred to the 60-day DL and Flynn can take his spot. The second is that Nate Karns could be transferred to the 60-day DL. At this point, he’s been out since May 20 anyway, so he likely won’t be back within 60 days. That would delay the decision. And the third is to just drop someone from the 40-man. Miguel Almonte having a nice season probably saves him, but the obvious choice is Chris Young, who does provide a valuable service of pitching innings so other people don’t have to, but let’s be real. You’d still rather have a better pitcher on the roster than that. I’m not sure Flynn will be in the big leagues since he has an option left, but he’ll definitely need to be added to the 40-man, so it’ll be interesting to see what the move is.