Royals' magic finally running out

By Steve Sell
July 21, 2016

Stick a fork in the Kansas City Royals. 

They are done for 2016.

After Wednesday afternoon’s 11-4 embarrassment at the hands of the American League's Central Division-leading Cleveland Indians, before an unhappy-and-restless crowd that’s watching the season go down the drain, the Royals officially became sellers at the upcoming trade deadline.

The homer-happy Indians exposed all facets of the Royals’ ineptitude. Ian Kennedy appeared to be on a mad dash to catch teammate Chris Young for the most home runs allowed in Major League Baseball. The undisciplined Royals hitters continue to frustrate their manager by helping out the pitchers, in this case Carlos Carrasco.

All-in-all, the fans should have had their money refunded for this uninspired stinker in what was termed by some at the start of the day as the biggest game of the year. Losing to Cleveland in reality is a two-game swing as instead of being seven games back, they are nine.

The Royals are in a free fall as they have dropped to .500 at 46-46. It wasn’t that long ago they were 38-31 and positioning themselves nicely for a third straight trip to postseason play.

But it’s not going to happen. The Royals are playing four-on-five because every fifth day their starters go out and are barely competitive. It started with Young, with Dillon Gee and Brian Flynn offering little respite. Expected No. 4 starter Kris Medlen has been a total zero and is now on the 60-day disabled list, probably to never be heard from again.

Danny Duffy has been the most reliable starter. You never know what you’re going to get with volcanic Yordano Ventura and while Edinson Volquez battles his tail off, he’s little more than marginal at this stage of his career. The normally rock-solid bullpen has even shown cracks, as just Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera have lived up to their reputations. Joakim Soria has been good in no-stress situations, but has folded when the leverage is high.

The punchless offense is in full-out desperation mode as it seldom tops more than four runs. It’s starting to look like the 4-year, $72 million contract given to longtime mainstay Alex Gordon is going to haunt this team for years to come. Gordon, who didn’t start Wednesday, is at the Mendoza Line and almost appears resigned that his skills have quickly eroded as his body language is terrible. There’s no Mike Moustakas (though Cheslor Cuthbert has been one of the bright spots this season) and Lorenzo Cain’s history of hamstring problems has resurfaced.

All-Stars Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez have done all they can to keep the team afloat this long, but this thing is ripping apart at the seams. The Royals are embarking on a total collapse that probably will relegate them to fourth place in the AL Central, only because the Twins are on pace to lose more than 100 games.

It doesn’t help that their farm system has dried up as the only decent prospects have been elevated this year, such as Cuthberg, Whit Merrifield and Brett Eibner.

The Royals took advantage of their window of opportunity to make back-to-back World Series appearances. But given how their pitching has dissolved and the offense has far too many holes with little production from second base, left field and right field, the Royals are starting to return to the dark days. Let's hope we're not looking at a return of those 100-loss seasons that annually piled up.