Don’t look now, but the Royals have won a second series this year and it was even on the road. Can anyone stop this team? Yes. The answer is yes. Everyone can. But wins are still fun, so it’s nice to get a chance to see them a little bit. As we’ve discussed, this season is really not about the team anymore, but rather the individual performances. I was asked on a radio show the other day what has to happen for this season to at least have some success to it and the answer is that they need to find out about all these guys now before the big (for them) prospects start coming up, maybe as soon as next year. We need to know what Cheslor Cuthbert, Hunter Dozier, Jorge Bonifacio and others can do. To this point, we don’t, unless you believe Cuthbert and Dozier are lost causes, so hopefully we get to find out more moving forward.
- Boy oh boy did Danny Duffy need that start last night. Boy oh boy did the Royals need Danny Duffy to have that start last night. He went 7.2 innings, gave up just one run on four hits, struck out five and walked just two. There has been an awful lot of talk about Duffy and his issues. I know it’s been brought up to me on pretty much every radio interview I’ve done in the last few weeks. You can point to this or that, but really, everything has been wrong. Command has been horrible. Control has been largely horrible. His slider has been crushed. His fastball has been crushed. But last night, it worked. He had 11 swinging strikes, so that could still use a little work and only one of them was on the slider, but three were on his changeup and if he can get that working, everything can play off it. If this rebuild is going to work as quickly as the Royals hope it can, they’re going to need Duffy to be good. Either he’s a key part of those next good Royals teams or he’s dealt for players who are. And yes, last night was a phenomenal start. I think he got bailed out a bit by a not so great Rangers offense because he was still center cut with a few too many pitches, but it worked and a lot of Duffy is about confidence. Maybe last night gave him a little more.
- One guy who I completely forgot about was Jesse Hahn. The Royals picked him up in the deal that sent Brandon Moss and Ryan Buchter to Oakland and he was a reason why I thought the Royals rotation depth might be, well, better than it is. I don’t have any news on him, but I was thinking about starting rotation moves and thought about him for the first time since probably spring training or so. My thought process was that no matter how well Jason Hammel pitches the rest of the year, he shouldn’t make a single start for this team after July 31st at the latest. If he keeps pitching like he did on Wednesday, some team will give up some kind of player for him and he must be dealt. If he pitches like he did for the few starts before that, he should simply be released. As I mentioned with some of the hitters above, the Royals need to find out what their current players can do to see how they slot in with the future Royals teams.That means that Brad Keller should absolutely get some starts, maybe even Burch Smith. Give Trevor Oaks and Scott Barlow some chances. Foster Griffin might get himself two or three starts in September. And if you’re wondering where these are all coming from, starts for the remaining veterans can and should be skipped. Plus, Eric Skoglund, who while still not good has been better than I expected, threw just 118.2 innings last season, so I imagine the Royals will be cautious with him. Look, last season they got starts from Onelki Garcia, Andres Machado and Sam Gaviglio and that was with the playoffs still a possibility. I’m sure they can find some starts for the few I mentioned.
- With the rumblings that the Royals are about to open for business in trade talks (duh), I was thinking about the teams who could be interested in Kelvin Herrera and the other big closers on the market and it makes me wonder if the Royals actually could get a pretty big haul in exchange for him. Literally every team would be improved by acquiring Herrera, so you can’t discount any contender, but if the Royals are able to play teams off each other, they can make out really well for Herrera when you consider what his competition on the trade market is. Alex Colome, Zach Britton, Brad Hand, Kyle Barraclough, Raisel Iglesias (if healthy) and a handful of White Sox relievers will all be out there, but Herrera is playoff proven and having a fantastic year. I just think the demand will be really high for him and hopefully the Royals can find a way to finagle a top prospect in exchange for him to help expedite the rebuild of the farm system.
- Since there’s no Diamonds in the Rough today, I’ll give you a bit of a minor league rundown here. Omaha scored a lot of runs with big games from Ryan O’Hearn, Paulo Orlando and Humberto Arteaga. And oh yeah, a walkoff home run from Jack Lopez. Cam Gallagher also hit his second home run and is showing that he should be the backup in the big leagues. Lexington improved to 23-21 with a 7-2 win. A Nick Pratto home run paced the offense with Sebastian Rivero chipping in two hits. Wilmington lost 10-7 as Gerson Garabito got roughed up by Potomac, but Oliver Nunez picked up three hits, including his first home run. I saved Northwest Arkansas for last. They lost a well pitched game 4-2, but the story to me was Nicky Lopez going 2-for-3. He’s now hitting .339 with an OBP of .417 and he’s on fire right now. I talked about him last week, but it’s probably about time for him to move up to Omaha to see how he handles AAA pitching. I know there’s not much pop in his bat, but he could add a little muscle and he did show some pop in the Arizona Fall League. If you’re wondering where they might find the roster space, I recommend releasing Ryan Goins and letting Ramon Torres stay in the big leagues, but that’s just me.