I can very much appreciate consistency and the consistency with which people argue with the lineups the Royals put out is pretty fantastic. The fact that people still have that kind of passion for a team on the fast track to 110-plus losses is really pretty impressive and I do think speaks to how much the fan base loves this team. My favorite part is the calls for Ned Yost’s job based on this lineup, not because I think he’s earned the right to be manager forever or anything but because there are a lot of creative comments. I saw one person indicate that Yost had cost the Royals 25 to 30 losses. Yes, that’s right. This person seems to believe that the Royals would be 60-53 with a better manager. There’s your laugh of the week. Let’s get to the notes.
- The Royals have the potential for a very awkward outfield logjam if their injured players actually return. Brian Goodwin could be back any time, including today, so there’ll be a decision to be made soon. Jorge Soler’s slow recovery makes this a little easier because he seems destined to be out until September, but the Royals could potentially have Goodwin, Soler, Alex Gordon, Rosell Herrera, Brett Phillips and Jorge Bonifacio. The concern I have is that Bonifacio is going to end up as the odd man out because of the way he’s played. He’s hit just .209/.293/.336 and that’s after starting by hitting .306/.358/.510 in his first 13 games. He did go two for three with a walk and a double on Wednesday night, so maybe he’s starting to come around again, but he’s looked absolutely lost. The last month and a half or so of the season is really important to basically all the Royals outfielders other than Gordon because they’re fighting for playing time in 2019. We’ve talked about Herrera’s versatility being a big key for them, but even so, that’s six outfielder with Elier Hernandez knocking on the door in Omaha and potentially needing to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason as well as Khalil Lee and Kort Peterson just a couple steps away. This is a pretty good problem to have, but it’ll be interesting to see how this all gets sorted out.
- I touched on this a few weeks ago when I talked about Blake Perkins and his ridiculous walk rate and .400-plus OBP since coming to the Royals, but with Kelvin Herrera hitting the disabled list this week, I’m completely ready to walk back my criticism of the deal. Another factor in that is that Kelvin Gutierrez has been really good for Northwest Arkansas over the last month or so. I haven’t been able to confirm this yet, but it’s worth mentioning in this spot that I had heard he was working with a swing coach to try to generate more loft and add the power that he had been lacking in his game. Before last night, he had hit .340/.359/.530 over his last 26 games. The walk rate is obviously pretty atrocious, but a .190 ISO will play and he’d even hit two home runs in August already heading into last night’s action. I thought at the time there was at least a chance they thought Herrera was a ticking time bomb and wanted to move him as quickly as possible, and now that he’s on the disabled list and has been somewhere between average and bad with the Nationals, I’m believing that a lot more. There’s plenty to criticize Dayton Moore and the front office about over the last couple years and especially the last few months, but I believe this trade is not one of those things.
- I’m not sure what the point is where results weigh heavily enough to change opinions and I know we’re not there yet on Heath Fillmyer, but the results we’ve seen from him have been pretty darn good. I know that 21 strikeouts and 17 walks in 37.1 innings is a recipe for future disaster, but you have to at least be impressed with the way he’s handled himself. He’s sort of like Jakob Junis in that he really relies on a slider to be successful, but it’s been excellent for him with a 33.3 percent whiff rate. His changeup has been very good too with a 7 percent whiff rate and .190 average against it. I don’t think I’d be going out on a limb to say that Fillmyer won’t really be a factor with any team at any point in his career, but given the success he’s had with the slider and changeup, he’s definitely a pitcher who could benefit from using his fastball less, a tactic the Astros (and others) use to their advantage. In his Wednesday start against the Cubs, his curve was also very good, even though he didn’t get a single swing and miss on it. Like I said, I still don’t believe in Filly long term, but he has some things to build on and if he does, maybe he could be a viable option on a pitching staff in some capacity. It’s at least a lot more likely today than it was two months ago.
- The Royals don’t have many August trade candidates, but they do have a few guys on the 40-man roster who I suppose could possibly get moved over the next couple weeks. The most likely is Lucas Duda who could provide actual value for a contender as a lefty bat off the bench, but in the likely scenario that none of them are actually dealt, I think the Royals should really just release all of Duda, Alcides Escobar, Drew Butera and Jason Hammel toward the end of the month. Before you scoff and/or say that’s super-obvious, if the Royals can’t get anything in a trade for any of them releasing them is actually sort of a very Dayton Moore thing to do because it would give them the opportunity to latch on with a team and maybe even be on their playoff roster. I’m not sure why a team would want any of them, but hey, you never know. And obviously the important part from the Royals perspective is it opens up some 40-man roster spots to be able to give them to guys like Josh Staumont, Richard Lovelady and Nicky Lopez for September call-ups (if they’re to get one). I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but it definitely should, and I do think it actually might.