The All-Star break couldn’t come at a better time for baseball’s defending World Champions.
Kansas City manager Ned Yost summed it up best when he said his team has been “treading water.” The Royals limped into the All-Star break two games over .500 at 45-43, but at one point were 38-31 and in the thick of the playoff chase.
As it stands the Royals are tied for third in the American League Central, a half-game out of second but 6 1/2 behind Cleveland, which has been scorching.
As far as the wild-card the Royals are in a cluster of teams, but still 4 1/2 games back, which can be erased with a hot streak.
But does this current configuration of the Royals have another hot streak in them during this crazy, roller-coaster ride of a season? At this point I don’t think so.
Hopefully Lorenzo Cain will be back after the All-Star Game. Ditto for Wade Davis. The Royals are only going to make a run if they get two of their most important players back.
The Royals’ fate could be decided the first week upon returning. They go on the road to Detroit for three, then come home for three against Cleveland — six games against the teams they are chasing. Also in July are games at The K against Texas and the Los Angeles Angels, followed by a crucial four-game road trip at Texas, where the Royals simply don’t play very well.
So by Aug. 1, the Royals could very well be done.
Yost was correct in his assessment of the team at the All-Star break. Offensively it’s a struggle to score runs even though Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez are having good years. Cheslor Cuthbert has approached Mike Moustakas’ numbers at third and has been solid defensively.
But there’s still too little power, especially when you get no homers out of second base, shortstop and right field.
Maybe Alex Gordon’s light will go on. He missed a good portion of the season with a hand injury, but even when he’s been healthy it’s been a nightmare. He has struck out at a dizzying pace and has hardly lived up to the id="mce_marker"8 million a year he’s being paid, which perhaps has been the albatross around his neck.
Then there’s the pitching, or lack thereof. The starting rotation has been a train wreck most of the year, with Danny Duffy the shining light. The bullpen is again among the best in baseball, but weakened with the loss of Davis.
The bottom line is this is a team with too many holes to make a run at the playoffs and it doesn’t have the resources to go out and add pieces. After the last two fun-filled years that produced trips to the World Series and last year’s memorable championship celebration, the Royals are trending downward.