The Kansas City Royals have had a rough season and have been written off by nearly everyone for a playoff run. That may prove to be a mistake as the team has been very hot as of late.
As far as the experts are concerned, the Kansas City Royals are all but eliminated from playoff contention. Except, they aren’t quite eliminated, and clearly don’t plan on going down without a fight. Smart money would be on them to miss the playoffs altogether. My colleague here at KC Kingdom, Leigh Oleszczak, probably has the right of it. This is all too little, too late. So, why does it feel like maybe it isn’t?
For those who may have stopped watching, the Royals are hot right now. In fact, Kansas City is the second hottest team in the American League, behind only the Mariners, for the month of August with an 11-5 record right so far, including series wins against the Tigers and Blue Jays. Fans have seen, and know, this Royals squad can play with the better teams in baseball.
Ok, so half of a month isn’t really a lot to get excited about. Is some of this just wishful thinking on my part? Probably…but I can’t say that it bothers me. C’mon, what could be more in line with how this team works than to stage an epic comeback to make a playoff run to defend their crown? I mean, what is possibly more #ForeverRoyal than that?! Also, there is some evidence that this is not the same team we’ve been watching for the past few months.
The Kansas City Royals are playing great baseball at the moment, especially on the pitching end of things, giving up five or more runs just three times this month. For comparison, they gave up five or more runs eight times in their sixteen July games after the All-Star break. It’s a significant improvement. On the other end, the Kansas City Royals pitching staff has held opponents to three or fewer runs ten times over this stretch.
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A lot of that has to do with the return of Danny Duffy (4-0 in August), who has been nothing short of brilliant since coming back onto the mound. However, he hasn’t been alone, as Edinson Volquez (1-1), Yordano Ventura (2-0), and Ian Kennedy (1-0) have all looked much better this month. In fact, of the Royals five losses so far this month, three have come off of blown save opportunities. Blown saves are frustrating, but the good news there is that Wade Davis may be back soon.
Offensively, the bats have started to come alive as well for the Kansas City Royals. During their sixteen July games after the All-Star break, they scored five or more runs just three times. During this August stretch, they have done it five times. It’s not huge, but it is definitely an improvement. That was highlighted during this last series when the Royals posted a four home run game against the Tigers.
Can They Do It?
Looking ahead, things appear primed for the Royals to make a run. 16 of their remaining 43 games come against White Sox or Twins, with another four against the A’s. There is an opportunity to gain ground in the division with six games against the division leaders, the Cleveland Indians. The Royals also have another six games against the Tigers. That is a lot of chances to continue to gain ground in their division, as well as in the Wild Card race.
That’s not to say that this is an easy road. The Royals are still 10 games back of the Indians. They are also eight games behind in the Wild Card race. So KC cannot afford to stumble at all from here on out. They need to continue to win series, and will even likely need a few sweeps. Winning that many games will be hard to do, and the Royals do have some tough contests ahead with the Marlins, Yankees, and Red Sox all still on the schedule. Wins over those three won’t come easy.
You also have to factor in that other teams, including the Indians, Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox, and Marlins, are making their playoff pushes as well. Six of the Royals remaining series come against teams competing for the postseason. KC controls their own destiny to a degree by facing that many contenders, but that also means they are playing against a high level of competition.
Under the current regime, the Kansas City Royals never seems to do things the conventional way. Everything has to take us by surprise. It’s very Yostian (yes, that should be a thing) in that way. Forget conventional wisdom and just believe in this team. Kansas City fans need to get behind this team, be #ForeverRoyal, and defend the crown!