The Kansas City Royals proved their ability to bounce back from heartbreak with a huge winning streak from early to mid-June. They followed this up by losing six of seven, and the offense is mostly to blame for both of these noteworthy stretches. After scoring two or less in five of seven games, KC has suddenly brought home 12 in their last two. It’s easy to say KC’s offense is turning around, but we need to look at their productivity in context to understand their actual capabilities this year.
Almost nobody is going to put up big numbers on Clayton Kershaw, but the Royals must get something done against top-shelf pitchers if they want to reach the playoffs, not to mention winning a series in the postseason. Very rarely has KC beat up on teams’ best or second-best starters, but perhaps this June is evidence that this disturbing pattern has changed.
This month, KC put up five on the previously untouchable Hisashi Iwakuma and scored 10 on defending Cy Young winner Max Scherzer in just four innings. Iwakuma went eight strong without allowing a run in his last two outings vs. KC, and Scherzer threw a three-hit shutout in the start prior to recently getting roughed up by the Royals in Detroit. KC needs to battle against these high-quality starters and keep games close, but even more important is their production against sub-par pitching.
KC put up eight runs and 13 hits on minor league call-up Matt Shoemaker in Friday’s win, and they need to continue to pound mediocre starters to stay in the playoff hunt. Tomorrow brings another struggling Angel with limited experience taking the mound in 26-year-old Hector Santiago. While Santiago has considerably more MLB starts than Shoemaker (36 as opposed by just 8), he’s yet to get it together in 2014. This season, Santiago is 0-7 with a 4.41 ERA.
On Saturday, this struggling starter takes the mound opposite rookie sensation, Yordano Ventura. The Royals should undoubtedly feel like they let one get away if they lose Saturday’s Game 2 of 3 with LA.