Royals' road woes are baffling

By Steve Sell
June 23, 2016

The Kansas City Royals have just two road games left to play in June, those coming on the final two days of the month in St. Louis.

As it stands, the Royals have won a whopping two —  count ‘em, two — road games in June.

As we’re about to close out the third month of the season, it’s still confounding how the defending World Series champions turn to jello when they’re not being cheered on by their adoring faithful at The K.

With back-to-back one-run losses to the team they vanquished to win the World Series — the New York Mets — the Royals are now 13-25 on the road. That’s the second-worst record in the American League with the only saving grace being the woebegone Minnesota Twins. Should the Royals lose on the 29th to their in-state rivals, that would mean they are winning only one of every three road games they play, a percentage that will not result a third straight trip to the playoffs.

Fortunately, the Royals are offsetting their road woes by simply dominating teams at home. They are an astounding 25-8 at The K, with five games coming up starting Friday. They play three against Houston and two against St. Louis, teams that are in contention for playoff berths.

The Royals’ offense is night and day. At home they are hitting a rousing .286 and have scored 165 runs in 33 games. In the 38 games on the road, they have scored just 121 runs and are batting a punchless .262.

Their pitching splits are lopsided as well. The team ERA at spacious Kauffman Stadium is a tidy 3.47. On the road it’s a bloated 4.42 and teams are slugging at a .445 clip compared to .379 at home.

The Royals really have a hard time keeping opposing teams in the yard, as you have Chris Young giving up 19 homers on the season and Ian Kennedy 18. However, a majority of those are on the road where the Royals have played in such bandboxes as Yankee Stadium and Cellular Park in Chicago.

I’m sure Ned Yost has to be scratching his head. The Royals were a quality road team last year, but they don’t seem to play with the same confidence and energy. They relished their road warriors tag, but now it’s almost like they’re expecting something bad to happen each time they tee it up on the road.

The Royals are expected to welcome back Alex Gordon any day now. Gordon has been out for more than a month with a hand injury, the second year in a row he has missed significant time. He was off to an awful start, perhaps feeling the weight of the monster contract he was awarded after last season, which was as much for his past performance than what he’s expected to do. 

When Gordon comes back, expect Brett Eibner to head back to the minors. While he’s brought a lot of energy to the team, he’s caught in a numbers crunch, unless the Royals would decide that Jarrod Dyson simply is pulling his weight anymore. This is his seventh year with the team and he’s lost maybe a step. He was given a chance to win an outfield spot this year, but has come up short, as he’s going to be a fourth outfielder lifer.

But Dyson a step slower is still faster than about anybody else in the game. I don’t see the Royals parting ways with him at this time, but next year could be a different story.