The Kansas City Royals currently possess the longest winning streak in all of MLB, pushing them three games over .500 and in a solid third place in the AL Central. But do they have the fortitude to push on into the playoffs?
Kansas City has suffered many years of mediocrity, settling into complacency at the middle of the AL Central standings in years past and sometimes even hitting the bottom. After getting out to blazing starts to begin the past couple of seasons, they quickly fell of the radar.
But maybe this is their year.
The Royals began this year like any other — guns blazing — but they quickly ran out of ammo. Now the Royals have won nine games in a row. This streak has put them within eyesight of the Detroit Tigers, who are just 6.5 games up. Everybody likes an underdog story. Unfortunately, the Royals are not the story to get attached to.
First and foremost, they play in the same division as the Tigers, a team that has surprisingly not established much distance between them and the rest of the division. The Tigers are potent in every aspect of the game, with triple-crown candidate Miguel Cabrera recovered from his injury and backed up as always by Prince Fielder for the most powerful three-four combo in all of baseball.
With Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister leading the rotation, the likelihood of a Royals takeover is slim to none.
Standing between the Royals and the Tigers are the Cleveland Indians. The Indians were not predicted to amount to much this season. At only two games behind the Tigers, the Tribe has put all doubts to rest behind the excellent pitching of ace Justin Masterson. With a starting rotation possessing a record of 34-21, the pitching staff of the Indians is nothing to be trifled with.
The Tribes’ lineup is nothing to be scoffed at either. Anchored by the young heroics of All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis, the Indians have clawed their way into the top-ten of most offensive categories.
If it’s an underdog story that deserves attention, it’s this one. But perhaps the Royals have the tools to keep up with their AL Central dueling mates.
With no one in the Royals starting lineup hitting over .300, the third-least home runs and in the bottom third in the league in runs scored, offensive potency does not appear to be the way for a Royals success story.
What they do possess is a solid pitching staff. They stand seventh in the league in ERA, sixth in earned runs allowed and in the top third of just about every other statistical category. James Shields and Ervin Santana have anchored the rotation masterfully, but without offensive backing, their combined record is only 13-13.
Unfortunately, .500 ball out of the top two starters is not enough for a playoff run.
A team down the stretch needs all components to come together. The Royals needed to make at least one huge move at the trade deadline. Though Justin Maxwell is a great utility pickup, he’s not enough to give the Royals that extra push into the postseason.
For the Royals, this winning streak may be the extent of their excitement this year.