By Richard Cuicchi | August 29, 2016 at 05:42 AM EDT | No Comments
In one of my blog posts earlier in the spring, I dubbed the 2015 World Series Champion Kansas City Royals the “New Yankees,” because they had made two consecutive World Series appearances and appeared to be primed to continue that run in 2016. But up until a month ago, they were playing nothing like the legendary teams of the storied Yankee franchise.
On July 31 the Royals were twelve games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians. They were being pretty much written off as being unable to return to the playoffs this season. However, in the month of August, the Royals have an 18-7 record through Saturday, clawing back 5 ½ games in the standings against the first-place Indians. In a stretch from August 14 to August 23, the Royals ran off nine consecutive wins.
A look at the Royals’ season show some interesting facts:
The Royals’ home field has been very kind to the team this season. They are 40-21 at home, while posting a 27-41 record on the road.
During their impressive month of August, they’ve allowed only 71 runs so far, compared to an average of 127 for May, June and July. For the season, the Royals trail only Toronto in runs allowed in the American League.
The Royals have a 34-17 record against their division opponents.
Never known for having a high-powered offense, the Royals have scored the fewest runs and hit the fewest home runs in the league. Only the Oakland A’s are worse than the Royals in On Base + Slugging Percentage (OPS).
Their pitching has been the component that has put the team into contention again. Danny Duffy and Ian Kennedy have been the mainstays in the starting rotation, accounting for eight of their wins in August. In the bullpen, closer Wade Davis has been on the Disabled List for the month of August, requiring bullpen mate Kelvin Herrera to step into the closer role. Herrera has responded with nine saves in August, while Joakim Soria has been effective in middle relief.
Despite their winning trend, in reality the Royals are playing for a wild-card spot. They won’t likely overtake the Indians for the division title, unless Terry Francona’s charges have a severe meltdown in the final month. But the Royals could possibly overtake the Detroit Tigers, currently two games ahead of the Royals in the division.
In the remaining games of the schedule the Royals have a period between September 5th and 19th, where they face Minnesota, Chicago, and Oakland, teams against which they have a 21-7 record this season. However, the crucial part of their schedule includes two 3-game series against both the Indians and Tigers.
Going into the final month of the season, the Royals seem to be playing with a “can’t lose” mentality. What they have on their side is the winning culture of the past two seasons. This team has that valuable experience to draw on. Royals manager Ned Yost has proven in the past that he knows how to get the most out of a team that doesn’t have big superstars to rely on. They will win because they will scratch and claw out a few runs and rely on solid pitching to keep them close in games.
Certainly, that’s wasn’t the Yankee way of the past Bronx Bomber teams. But it just might be good enough to get the Royals into the playoffs again.