Friday, May 24, 2024

The Missouri Breakout


Five teams in baseball right now have 30 or more wins. Four of them are usual suspects. Yanks, Phils, Dodgers, Guardians. Teams you've heard about. Teams that have been dominating all season. The fifth is one you probably haven't heard about, because up until now it hasn't occurred to many people that it's a big deal that the Royals have won six games in a row. But now that they have, they've won 32 games, and that puts them in the top tier of the MLB.

The Royals were looking at 2023 as the year they'd fully break out. You could see them putting the pieces together, bringing up Michael Massey and Vinnie Pasquantino, even Freddy Fermin for a spell, and setting up a nice young team at the end of 2022. Then 2023 happens and everything falls apart, everybody gets hurt and only really Bobby Witt overperforms. These guys were expecting great things from Pasquatch and Brady Singer and Scott Barlow and none of it happened. So they crumpled and tossed. And now, with only a few small changes and more time to develop, the Royals are a competitive team.

Around when I saw these guys signing free agent starters was when I knew something was up. Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha, trading for Kyle Wright. With Brad Keller gone and Kris Bubic still out, they were making an effort to really boost the rotation, and it worked out. Lugo has been excellent so far this season, reaffirming the positive decision by his agent to sell him as a starter going into 2023. In 10 starts, he's 10-1 with a 1.79 ERA, some extremely dominant work that has not gone unnoticed. Thankfully Singer and Ragans have also been sharp, both with low ERAs and high strikeout totals. And Alec Marsh of all people has become a strong fifth starter, with a 4-1 record and a 2.72 ERA in 8 starts, made even more crucial by KC's inability to properly replace him in the rotation during his two missed starts. Wacha is currently the weak link but even he's still pretty good.

Then you see all those young players finally looking confident in that lineup. Massey, Pasquantino, Fermin, Maikel Garcia, Dairon Blanco, they're all doing great so far. And they're all rallying around Bobby Witt, who's had a huge start to the season already, and might be a favorite at shortstop once All Star Game voting begins next month. There's enough offensive production to keep them as favorites, and it's brought them within a game and a half of the Guardians for the division. Kansas City is the better power team, and has the better rotation, but Cleveland has better contact luck, and arguably more big stars. They're also better defensively, which may be the edge during future matchups. 

But at the moment, the Royals are feeling pretty great about themselves, and are looking like favorites in future series against the Rays and Twins. If they keep this going, who knows what they'll be able to accomplish later on.

Coming Tonight: So there's this, uh...this guy in Pittsburgh who throws a hundred miles an hour...