Royals may not be able to overcome injuries

By Steve Sell
May 27, 2016

The Moose won’t be loose again until 2017.

Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, who had been remarkably durable until this season, was ruled out for the year on Thursday due to a torn ACL suffered when he collided with outfielder Alex Gordon last week, a play that also has sidelined Gordon for up to a month with a broken wrist.

The Royals, one hot streak away from being back in first place in the American League Central as they are just two games behind the division-leading Chicago White Sox, are hosting the Pale Hose this weekend. Thursday’s game was wiped out due to rain, but a KC three-game sweep would vault them over the boys from the Windy City.

The Royals, though, have been severely weakened with the injuries to Moustakas and Gordon, not to mention disabling injuries to starting pitchers Chris Young and Kris Medlen, albeit when they were healthy they were atrocious.

The Royals were nicked here and there during their two-year run to the World Series, but not to this extent. Fortunately, they’re in a division that’s begging to be won as the other four teams have some serious flaws. Minnesota basically has already played itself out of contention as it’s been borderline awful.

I’ve been a Moustakas detractor for much of his career, but he’s worked hard to become a serviceable player. He had a breakout season last year and while his numbers other than his seven homers weren’t overly eye-popping to start 2016, he had become a dependable piece to the puzzle.

Cheslor Cuthbert is now the Royals’ everyday third baseman. He’s a good glove man, but offers little power from a position that demands it. It’s generally regarded in baseball that your top power sources are your corner infielders and corner outfielders, unless you’re like the Royals and have a catcher with a lot of pop like Salvy Perez.

Even the normally unflappable Ned Yost has to be feeling concerned. The Royals are a good team, but even they can’t overcome such a cavalcade of trips to the disabled list. Yost is a manager who doesn’t like to deviate from a set lineup, unlike St. Louis manager Mike Metheny who trots out a different order almost every day.

For the Royals to remain relevant the starting pitching has to pick it up. Kansas City starters are struggling to go long distances and Yost is having to handle his overworked bullpen like a magician. No starter could really be termed as dependable, as all have had their moments. It’s hard to imagine the Royals staying afloat with pitchers like Dillon Gee and Danny Duffy being counted on heavily. Yordano Ventura is still an unbroken colt, Edinson Volquez has command issues and Ian Kennedy is a .500 pitcher, though he’ll give you innings.

The Royals now have a lot of holes in their lineup as Cuthbert can’t be counted on to match Moustakas’ production, while nobody expects Paulo Orlando to continue his rampage. Omar Infante is still production-challenged and Jarrod Dyson doesn’t hit consistently when he plays for long stretches, which he has to do now.

The Royals, though, still have a lot of heart and they’re going to need it with the challenges they now face.