We start a 4 game series with the Royals tonight at Rogers Centre. The Royals are 24 and 28, sitting in 4th spot in the AL Central. Their offense has been terrible, they are last in the AL in runs per game at 3.79. They've been much better on the defensive side, allowing 4.10 runs per game, 4th best in the AL. They do play in one of the more pitcher friendly parks in the league.
I sent off some questions to Josh Duggan, from Royals Review. Here are his answers.
The Royals have had a slow start, what’s caused it? Do you have hope they can make a push for a wild card spot?
The offense has been worse than expected. They were never going to be great--there's no power to speak of, and they're allergic to walks--but being at or near the bottom of the league by nearly every measure is a bit surprising. As a realist, I never really assumed they'd make a push for a wild card spot. This looked like an 84-win team coming into the season. They're probably even worse than that.
I guess the question on everyone’s mind is Dayton Moore going to make it until the end of the season? What do Royals’ fans think of him?
I honestly have no idea. I'm inclined to say yes, simply because it seems as though ownership is blind to his myriad glaring faults. It seems like there are far too many of the casual fans who were pleased with an ultimately meaningless 86-win season in which they never had more than about a 5% chance of making the playoffs. The sabermetrically inclined segment of the fanbase has certainly wanted him gone for years now. More and more fans seem to have come over to this line of thinking as the Royals have stomped on anything resembling hope thus far this season.
Can you give us a scouting report on Ned Yost? Strengths/weaknesses?
He's hardly on the cutting edge of anything, and he does sometimes make questionable decisions insofar as managing the pitching staff is concerned. He is not, however, a whole helluva lot worse than most managers. In short, the Royals struggles cannot really be assigned to him. I wouldn't say he has many strengths, at least within the construct of my philosophical preferences, but he's not discernibly worse than 90% of the managers in baseball who are just as inadequate.
What is the injury to Ventura Yordano? When will he be back? I’m not really sad that we will miss him.
Right now, the club is saying that he'll only miss one or two starts. The MRI results were apparently clean, though the complaint was of a "lateral" nature when they first spoke of the elbow injury. Given the way the Royals season has gone, he'll tear his UCL in the second inning of his next start.
Can we have a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers we are likely to see?
James Shields on Thursday. He is who you think he is, though he's coming off two straight less than effective starts. Jason Vargas has spent the last month regressing to the Jason Vargas he's meant to be. Ventura's spot comes up on Saturday. It's thought that either Sugar Ray Marimon or Aaron Brooks will come up from Omaha to make the start. Marimon pitched on Monday, so that'd be my guess. Neither Marimon nor Brooks should be cause for concern amongst Jays fans. Jeremy Guthrie is set to go on Sunday. He's basically right-handed Jason Vargas without a K-rate that would qualify as middling. That's code for boring with even less strikeouts.
A fair bit has been made of the fact that Edwin Encarnacion has more home runs in May than the Royals. What’s caused the power outage? Who will be the Royals’ leader in home runs come season end?
Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler have both been completely anemic. There weren't many guys in the lineup who were going to hang dong on a prodigious basis anyway. Optimistically, Butler, Alex Gordon, Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas were going to hit somewhere around 20 on the year, and that's if things went well. They haven't. At this point, it seems like the smart money would be on Gordon. He might finish with what Encarnacion will end up with in May.
Who is your favorite Royal to watch?
I think anyone who doesn't say a healthy Yordano Ventura is insane. He is Viagra. Gordon is fun to watch in the field and is struggling less at the plate than most of the offense. When Greg Holland is on, he is absolutely filthy.
How is our old friend Tim Collins doing?
Usually he waits until Yost abuses him by having him throw 15 times in 20 days to begin to throw terribly. His strikeout rates have cratered. His K/BB is 0.67. Things aren't going well for him.
Is there anything else we should know about the Royals?
They shouldn't pose too much of a threat for the Jays. Of course, this being baseball, they'll come off the sweep at the hands of the Astros and split the series with the much better Jays, in the process extending the misery of Royals fans hoping for things to get a lot worse so things can finally get better (Moore gets fired).