The Jays head to Kansas City to play three games against the Royals at Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals are tied with the White Sox for 3rd in the AL Central, 10 games back of the Indians.They are also 8 games back in the Wild Card race.
They are dead last in the AL in runs per game at 3.83 and 7th in the AL in runs allowed per game.
I sent off some questions to Max Rieper of Royals Review and here is what he had to say:
The Royals didn't do much at the trade deadline....what do Royals fans think of that? What would you have liked them to do?
Royals fans were pretty disappointed the team didn't do much of anything at the deadline other than acquire Billy Burns from Oakland for outfielder Brett Eibner, a head-scratching move that added more speed to a team that already had plenty of speed, while sacrificing some power. With the window for contention seemingly closing after the 2017 season, when much of the team is eligible for free agency, fans wanted to see the club do something to improve the team for next year, or at least get some prospects to make the fall from contention a bit softer.
The Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar injuries in late July hurt Dayton Moore's chances of cashing in on a very heated market for relievers, but he still had pitcher Edinson Volquez as a trade chip. Volquez, who has a mutual option that he will likely decline this winter, isn't any kind of ace pitcher. But in a very down market for starting pitcher, he seemed to have some value as a league-average starting pitcher with post-season experience on a reasonable salary.
What was most mystifying where Dayton Moore's comments following the trade deadline. He seemed convinced the team could make a run at the post-season, and there are reports the Royals will try to offer Volquez the $16.7 million Qualifying Offer, a risky proposition considering their financial situation.
Danny Duffy was amazing the other day and has been great all season. What is he doing different than in the past? Are the Royal trying to sign him to an extension?
Duffy says he has been simplifying things to get better results. He has always had electric stuff, but the knock on him has been he can't finish hitters off, and ends up working high pitch counts, causing him to exit after five innings. This year, he has worked from the stretch all the time, which has helped him simplify his mechanics. He has done a fantastic job mixing in high fastballs with a solid changeup. I think we're seeing a healthy Duffy put all his tools together and realize the success we've long thought he was capable, which is huge for the Royals considering how weak the rest of their starting rotation has been this year.
Which Royal has been your biggest surprise this year?
Duffy has been a pretty big surprise, but aside from him I would say Cheslor Cuthbert. When Mike Moustakas went down with a knee injury in May that would cost him his season, it looked like third base would be a mess. Cuthbert was once a hot prospect, who received a million dollar bonus out of Nicaragua. But a few lackluster seasons in the minors caused him to fall off the radar, and the reports on his defense were abysmal.
Cuthbert seems to be in much better shape now, and by the eye test, his defense has been superb (the metrics are much more skeptical). He has been the best hitter in the lineup over the last month, which probably says more about the slumping Royals hitters than Cuthbert. But he has been perfectly league average, and at just 23 years old, there is hope he could even improve, causing an interesting dilemma next year when Mike Moustakas returns.
Yordano Ventura has been a disappointment simply because fans were hoping he would reach his potential this year. However, it is not a huge surprise that he hasn't been able to put it together considering his inconsistencies and anger management issues. The bigger disappointment has been Alex Gordon, who the Royals signed to a franchise-record $72 million deal last winter. The fan favorite has been a disaster since the beginning of the season, looking lost on sliders, and whiffing at a career-high rate. Luckily, he is still drawing walks and playing solid defense (although he has lost a step), but he has been stuck near the Mendoza Line all year, a huge blow to a team that already projected to have little offense.
Are there any prospects that you are hoping the Royals will call up before the end of the season?
The major prospect Royals fans hoped to see was Raul Mondesi, who was called up a few weeks ago. He is the only Royals prospect to make any Top 100 lists lately, as the minors have been depleted by trades last season to acquire Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto, coupled with some bad recent drafts. Mondesi brings elite speed and defense, but his hitting record in the minors has been very questionable. He has some pop, and has drawn comparisons to Elvis Andrus, but it remains to be seen if he is able to improve his plate discipline at the Major League level.
If you could take one Royal from the past, restore him to his prime and put him on today's team, who would you pick?
It would be tempting to take Zack Greinke in his Cy Young year, because the starting pitching has been so awful (heck, Greinke might be their third or fourth-best hitter!) but you have to go with 1980 George Brett. He took some pop-gun offenses and took them to the playoffs through sheer pine-tar and grit, so you would think he could do something with this woeful lineup.
Can we have a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers the Jays are likely to face?
Dillon Gee goes on Friday. He has really just been filler because the Royals cannot find anyone better to fill out the rotation. When he keeps the ball down, he can be serviceable, but he has been home run prone just like everyone else in the rotation. Expect him to only last four or five innings before they go to the bullpen.
Danny Duffy goes Saturday, fresh off his near no-hitter. Duffy throws in the low 90s, amping it up to 95 at times, and has been really showing off a great change recently. He has had troubles at times going deep in games, especially if his command is off, but the last month he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Yordano Ventura goes on Sunday, and who knows what we'll get. He has been inconsistent, throwing more walks than ever before, with a sharp decline in command. His velocity ystill seems okay, but the loss of command has some worried he is nursing an injury. Knowing the history between the Royals and Jays, and his propensity to get rattled by his emotions, we could see bad Yordano this weekend.
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