Welcome to your baseball sorbet. That’s what I think the 2018 season will be for Royals fans. Don’t get me wrong, it’d be a lot more fun if the Royals were poised to take the American League by storm again this year, but after five seasons of every single game being so important, the silver lining of a bad club is that when a team blows a 4-0 first inning and loses by a touchdown, you don’t have to think if this loss will come back to bite them in September. The 2018 season isn’t about doing everything they can to win 90 games or whatever number they think will win the World Series, and that’s sort of relaxing. Of course that doesn’t mean it was exactly fun watching the team trot out something like 47 relievers yesterday to give up way too many runs.
- You can’t make a ton of judgments on one game. I don’t think Matt Davidson is going to win the MVP. I don’t think Brian Flynn is going to run a 20.25 ERA all season. There are more things I don’t think, but to go over all of them will take way too much time. One thing I do worry about is Danny Duffy. Spring training is what it is, but even though it doesn’t really matter, you’d like to see some success. Duffy struggled. And then he left a start with shoulder issues. I know Ned Yost said the velocity didn’t drop yesterday, and it was 93 at times, but he wasn’t throwing the gas he usually does. Maybe it was just really cold and that held him back. Maybe it was just that he was tentative because of the shoulder issue the other day. Whatever it was, he didn’t have enough, and he had command issues even when he was mowing down the White Sox. When he got to the fourth inning, he stopped missing outside the zone and started missing in the happy zone, and the White Sox absolutely pummeled him. I’m not a doctor, in spite of what you may have heard on Twitter, but I just have a hard time believing something isn’t wrong with Duffy. I’m not saying it’s a big issue and I’m not even saying it’s one he can’t pitch through, but he didn’t look right to me and when you add that to what happened at the end of spring training, it has me worried. With Nate Karns on the disabled list already and it seems like headed for the bullpen when he returns, the rotation is already hanging by a thread, but the Royals need to get Duffy right sooner than later.
- The Salvador Perez injury took everyone by surprise on Wednesday night, and it’s a tough blow, but I don’t see it as crushing. Part of why I don’t see it as crushing is that this team isn’t going anywhere, so I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world for Perez to get some time off in 2018. I suggested awhile back that the Royals sign Jonathan Lucroy for a bargain to get Perez out from behind the plate a bit in a lost season, and that would have been the preferable way to do it, but as long as there aren’t long-term ramifications from his torn MCL, this’ll work too. If Perez is out the full six weeks and then needs a rehab stint, he probably comes back around May 14 or so. That’s 41 games, so he can play a max of 121 games, which would be his lowest total since 2012 when he missed a ton of time with the first knee injury. Add in regular days off once he comes back and even if he doesn’t have any issues, he’s probably catching 100 games this year, which is just fine with me. If you’re wondering what it costs the Royals in terms of wins and losses, I’m a Cam Gallagher believer, so I think it’s maybe a win, and that’s from rounding.
- Speaking of Gallagher, if I was running the team, he’d be the guy to get the bulk of the playing time while Perez is out. I don’t think Butera is anything special, so that’s a big part of it, but I also believe that Gallagher can be a plus for this team. He’s not a star offensively, but he does do some things that I think will translate pretty well to the big leagues. He doesn’t have much pop, but he can work a walk and he makes decent contact. Tucker Barnhart from the Reds isn’t a bad comp for what he can do offensively, but he also brings some defensive skills to the table. He calls a good game, he’s a good framer and he throws pretty well too. I’m not here to tell you Gallagher is a star in the making or anything like that, but to me, he gives the Royals better production than Butera. At least we’ll get to see him when Jake Junis takes the hill (probably).
- Just a hunch, but I think the bullpen might be a bit of a problem this year. I don’t really have anything to add or any particular insights, but that was really ugly. I guess I’ll just cling to my idea that once things work out a little bit as the season progresses that it’ll look a lot better in a couple months. Until then, though? Yeesh. For some other thoughts on Opening Day, it was very cold. My feet just finally completely warmed up about 25 minutes ago. I think it’ll be pretty cool to see the 50th year stuff throughout the season, and I imagine there might be some tears remembering the good ol’ days, some of which weren’t actually all that long ago. One thing I know for sure is that win or lose, and they’ll do a lot more losing, it’ll be fun to share the season with all of you.