Three Up, Three Down
There isn’t a more popular guy this side of Salvador Perez. Whit has begun his major league career with 40 hits in his first 28 games and reached base safely in all but two of those. He is hitting .333 and is playing a good second base. Expectations are high but baseball is littered with older players (27 at his debut) who have started hot and faded. Anyone remember Jeremy Hazelbaker earlier this year? The 28 year old rookie had 5 home runs and an OPS of .988 in his first 28 games and now is back in the minors. Let’s not put Whit in the Royals HOF quite yet.
The latest All Star voting results are out and Salvy is again leading all American League vote getters. He has 2.7 million votes…just ahead of David Ortiz. Perez is leading all catchers in average, slugging, home runs, rbi, runs and is second in doubles. That and he’s the best throwing catcher in the league. He and teammate Eric Hosmer would start for the AL if the game were held today. CF Lorenzo Cain is just on the outside looking in currently in 5th in OF voting.
When things looked bleakest for the Royals starting rotation Danny Duffy stepped in. Since building his pitch count up he has been the teams best starter. Since moving to the rotation he has an ERA of 3.25 . He has 42 k’s and only 7 walks and the team is 5-2 in those games. Duffy has helped keep the Royals rotation afloat.
The rest of the rotation, especially on the road
The Royals are struggling at the front right now. Outside of Duffy no Royals starters are outperforming expectations to this point of the season. They are 10 games below .500 on the road and are giving up a run per game more on the road than at home.
Down and out. Hat tip to the Royals though for eating salary and clearing the roster space for younger players like Merrifield and Brett Eibner to come up and perform.
He is DOWN in the minors now on a rehab assignment. Getting Gordon back should boost an inconsistent Royals offense. The outfield will be crowded with Eibner up and Orlando hitting well, but the Royals need a healthy and consistent Gordon to make another deep run in the AL.
We have our first look at what Vegas thinks about the Chiefs a week before the NFL Draft. CG Technologies (formerly Cantor Gaming) has released point spreads for every game in the first 16 weeks of the NFL. Judging by those spreads the Chiefs are expected to go 8-4 with 3 games as a pick em. The only game not listed is the finale against San Diego.
The Chiefs are favorites in all their home games including 5 games of a touchdown or more. Vegas only has them losing one divisional game…at Denver…with the game at Oakland a pick. The complete details are available at vegasinsider.com The Chiefs games are broken out below.
Week 1 7 point favorite over Chargers at home
Week 2 pick in Houston against the Texans
Week 3 3.5 point favorite over the Jets at home
Week 4 4 point underdogs at the Steelers
Week 5 Bye
Week 6 pick in Oakland against the Raiders
Week 7 8 point favorite at home against the Saints
Week 8 1 point underdog at Indy
Week 9 7 point favorite over Jacksonville at home
Week 10 4.5 point underdog at Carolina
Week 11 7 point favorite over Tampa at home
Week 12 3 point underdog at Denver
Week 13 pick in Atlanta
Week 14 4.5 point favorite at home against Oakland on Thursday night
Week 15 9 point favorites at home against the Titans
Week 16 1.5 point favorite at home against the Broncos
Week 17 Line not listed at San Diego
After back to back AL pennants and a World Series title much credit has been given to Dayton Moore and his foresight in building the Royals. One thing that hasn’t been discussed was an error he made early in his tenure but learned from and corrected.
One of Dayton’s forgotten goals and theories was you wanted 1000 innings out of your starting 5. It’s a great goal…but one almost no team accomplishes. Injuries are too common and young pitchers are rushed to the big leagues on innings limits which make that goal nearly impossible to achieve. It appears now Moore has shifted strategies.
Last year the Royals brought Chris Young and Joe Blanton to camp with no real spot in the rotation or pen. Call it insurance, call it depth or call it luck but the Royals ended up getting 22 starts and 13 wins out of them. This year its Mike Minor, Dillon Gee and Chien-Ming Wang picked up from the island of misfit toys. To me they may be the secret to the Royals success this year.
Many pundits have tagged the Ian Kennedy signing as the worst in the off season. Leaving his final spring training start with the same hamstring injury that sidelined him last year isn’t helping the Royals argument there. They paid Kennedy 70 million dollars over 5 years to eat innings and get outs. That might have been too much, but for less than 10 million dollars Dayton Moore bought some insurance.
Moore seems to have realized 5 starters aren’t going to get you through a season and bringing up prized prospects for spot starts isn’t a good use of service time. He has instead found reclamation projects to provide depth for a suspect rotation. Some might argue the rotation isn’t suspect but let me make a case….Chris Young is aging, Kris Medlen has had two tommy john surgeries, Yordano Ventura still has immature moments and, as mentioned, Ian Kennedy is already having issues.
This is where Moore may have been at his best again this season. This year he will pay Mike Minor, Dillon Gee and Chien-Ming Wang a total…total…of 5.75 million dollars. That’s 3 guys with starting experience waiting in the wings. Break glass in case of emergency.
The bull pen will get the headlines but a sidebar should be saved for Dayton Moore’s starting pitching insurance. It may be the unsung signings that save the Royals and take them toward another October.
Royals excitement is beginning to build once again as we are just a few weeks from Spring Training. As they enter the 2016 season the team has a chance to go from underdog to dynasty. They have set them up for a chance to truly make baseball history with another championship.
There is no doubt the Royals have already accomplished a lot by coming back from 30 years of hibernation to back to back World Series appearances and a title. That has revived a fanbase and energized a community. What it has done for Kansas City is immeasurable. Now, the Royals can take the footprint they’ve placed on Kansas City and plant it on the sport as a whole.
In the history of baseball only 14 times has a team won back to back World Series. It hasn’t happened since the Yankees from 1998-2000. Just going back to back would put the Royals in elite company. However, the Royals lost the year before…meaning they would be back to back Champions with 3 straight appearances. That has happened only 8 times in history. For various reasons the Yankees have dominated the sport through its history. This is no different. The Yankees have accomplished the back to back and 3 straight appearances feat 6 times. Yes, 6 of 8.
That means if the Royals win another Championship this year they will join the 1929-30 Philadelphia A’s and the 1972-74 Oakland A's as the only non Yankees to win back to back titles with 3 straight World Series appearances. The first championship in 30 years was magical for the Royals. Another one would be historic.
List of Back to Back World Series Championships
Consecutive Appearances In Parenthesis
1910-11 Philadelphia A’s
1915-16 Red Sox
1921-22 New York Giants
1927-28 Yankees (3 straight)
1929-30 Philadelphia A’s (3 straight)
1936-39 Yankees (4 straight)
1949-53 Yankees (5 straight)
1961-62 Yankees (5 straight)
1972-1974 Oakland A's (3 straight)
1977-78 Yankees (3 Straight)
1992-93 Blue Jays
1998-2000 Yankees (3 straight)
3rd and 1
The train keeps a rollin’.
This Chiefs team has turned things around like few in recent memory. From 1-5 to 7-5 is remarkable in itself, but the Chiefs have won those games by an average of almost 19 points per game. Nearly 3 touchdowns! They aren’t just winning they are dominating. Better yet they aren’t playing all the rummies either. Among the victims…playoff contenders Pittsburgh, Broncos, Bills and Raiders and the suddenly (since the Chiefs beat them) hot Lions.
I’m stealing this from college football guru Phil Steele. The Chiefs +/- in their five game losing streak earlier this year were minus 4. In the 6 game winning streak since they are plus 15. 15!! It’s been pretty simple, when the Chiefs have taken care of the ball they have won.
Which leads us to Alex Smith. Is he setting offensive records? Is he carrying the team in the 4th quarter like Cam Newton? Of course not. But is he turning it over like Andrew Luck was? Has he missed games due to injury like many other QB’s out there? No. Smith has done what he’s needed to do for this team. He’s stayed healthy and he’s taken care of the ball. Smith will not wow anyone with his stats, but he is taking care of the ball and keeping defenses honest. Even without Jamaal Charles.
The Chiefs remaining opponents records are a combined….14-34. The Chiefs could be at least a TD favorite in every game left. They way they are playing the team should be expected to win out and lock up the 5 seed in the AFC playoffs. That would match them up with the winner of the AFC South….the Colts or Texans. Even on the road, the Chiefs would likely be favored again. Yes, the Chiefs are about to go from 1-5 to a favorite to win a road playoff game.
What a turnaround.
By Doug Stewart
The Chiefs do a 180 from the season opener last year. After falling flat at home a year ago, the Chiefs go to Houston and get a 27-20 win. The game wasn’t that close most of the way and you wonder if the Chiefs took the foot off the gas a bit.
The biggest story of the game was turnovers and the Chiefs ability to cash them for touchdowns. Two extremely short fields helped the conservative Chiefs offense put 14 on the board in an otherwise defensive game. Second to that was the continued emergence of Travis Kelce. It wasn’t just the 87 on the jersey that made him look like Gronkowski against the Texans. His size and speed make him a threat in and out of the red zone.
The local college teams went a combined 2-1 over the weekend. That’s not bad in its own as a record but look further. Kansas lost yet another chance to get what could be an elusive 1 win on the season. K State looked the best of the three using stout defense to win at Texas San Antonio. Mizzou struggled throughout at Arkansas State but the defense shut down the RedWolves in the 2nd half allowing them to escape with a win on the road. 2-1…yes…but not an overall impressive week for the local 3.
Johnny Cueto. This is going from concerning to panic. His last 5 starts…0-5, 26 innings, 48 hits….48. He has struck out 20 against just 4 walks but he has been too hittable. That leads to 28 earned runs and a 9.57 ERA. The questions is shifting from should he start game one of the playoffs to should he start ANY game in the playoffs. He has 3 starts left in the regular season to see if he can turn the bus around.