This could be the final nail in the coffin.
The defending World Champion Kansas City Royals, who managed to avoid a rash of injuries in their 2014 and 2015 seasons on their way to the World Series, have been getting hammered from all sides this season.
The latest could be the most damaging with the announcement Tuesday that star reliever and close-out specialist Wade Davis is heading to the 15-day disabled list, though it could be longer.
Davis, for the second time in his career, was disabled due to a strained forearm. He recently went through a stretch where he pitched infrequently, mainly because the Royals were being blown out or winning games handily.
Even when he had been pitching, he hadn’t been the Davis of the last couple of years. While he had blown only two saves, he was skating on thin ice and his velocity had been down.
Davis’ injury follows those of Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain, not to mention a brief seven-day hiatus for Salvador Perez.
The Royals have been getting by due to the contributions of upstarts Cheslor Cuthbert, Whit Merrifield, Christian Colon and Brett Eibner, but there’s nobody from the minor league system who can take Davis’ place.
For now, the Royals will try to make do with Kelvin Herrera and Joakim Soria as their closers. Both have been All-Stars, but while capable they’re not quite in Davis’ class.
The Royals have been a fringe playoff team for much of the year, riding a roller-coaster of wildly inconsistent play. When they’ve been good, they’ve been very good. When they’ve been bad, due mainly to horrific starting pitching, they’ve been very bad.
Chris Young is the poster child for that statement. You almost have to blame Ned Yost for running him out there every five days, taking shellacking after shellacking. He could be the next to wind up on the disabled list with whiplash, because he can barely turn around after a ball has been hit because it's out of the yard so fast. It's staggering that he's allowed 26 homers, nearly one every other inning. And most of them are no-doubters, as were the four the Bluejays hit on Tuesday.
The Royals have to ride it out with Young. They have invested two years in him and can't afford to eat another contract as they've already swallowed Omar Infante's. He's being paid id="mce_marker"1 million not to play and nobody has picked him up. Young has one more year to go and maybe a stint in the bullpen is what he needs.
But the starting pitching situation is getting precarious. Only Danny Duffy has been reliable in the last few weeks, as Young, Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez and Ian Kennedy have been serving up batting practice. Kris Medlen is having trouble getting minor leaguers out while on rehab. Dillon Gee flunked his starting audition and was sent back to the bullpen. Chen Mieng Wang is now a reliever as his starting days have past him by.
How Kansas City is still in wild-card race is beyond me. It is not a good team right now and an awful team on the road. I think if Yost can coax 81 wins out of this battered bunch, it would be among his better managing jobs in his career. I have a feeling though the bottom could fall out soon and the Royals might be hard-pressed to win 75.