Wild card KC's only route to playoffs

By Steve Sell
August 21, 2017

Monday’s musings...

• ROYALS LOOK TO WILD CARD – Just judging by the eye test, the Kansas City Royals need to focus their full attention on the wild-card race.

Because there’s no way they’re going to catch the Cleveland Indians.

Sunday’s victory pulled the Royals within 6 1/2 games, but it may as well be 16 1/2. It doesn’t take a genius to look at the two teams and see which is the more complete club.

The difference is pitching. The Indians have glossy numbers all across the board, from starting pitching ERA to bullpen ERA. They ranked No. 1 in the American League in both.

Kansas City’s starters rarely go more than five innings. The overworked bullpen has one of baseball’s highest ERAs in August. Despite Ned Yost’s denials, fatigue has to be playing a role as clearly the No. 1 priority in the offseason, no matter what happens the rest of the way, is to find perhaps two starting pitchers.

Cleveland’s lineup also packs more punch, even with Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas having an historic year in what will probably be his Royals’ swan song as I look for him to be playing for a team on his beloved West Coast next year, possibly the Angels.

But the wild-card race looks like 5 p.m. Los Angeles rush hour traffic (or Houston, from what my people tell me). The Royals are just 1 1/2 games back and every day it seems like there’s a new team in the No. 2 spot, with the Yankees No. 1. New York could still catch Boston for the AL East title, but one of those teams is going to be the first wild-card.

Kansas City is hanging by a thread. But given this team’s pedigree, you can’t count it out. When it gets Salvador Perez back, that could be the emotional push it needs to cross the playoff finish line.

But it still comes down to pitching. And I’m not sure the Royals have enough of it.

• MAHOMES IMPRESSIVE — I put little-to-no stock in NFL preseason games, of which there should only be two instead of four, but that’s a controversy to address another day.

But son of a gun, didn’t Kansas City rookie swashbuckler Partrick Mahomes look like he’s going to be a quarterback keeper?

There were numerous gasps when the Chiefs traded up to take Mahomes, ahead of the more-heralded DeShawn Watson of Clemson. Critics argued he put up pinball numbers in the defenseless Big 12, a conference known for its Wild West shootouts and shoddy defenses. They are system numbers, the experts proclaimed.

But Mahomes could be for real. Sure, he’s outrageously raw, but he’s got size and a big arm. He has that intangible, though, of being uber-confident on the field. He looks to me he has no fear of failing. I know he put up two TDs against a Cincinnati defense that consisted of probable backups or waiver list candidates, but he showed a flair that is intriguing.

Mahomes doesn’t have to play this year, unless Alex Smith gets hurt. He can soak up all of the knowledge he can and be ready when Smith finally turns the job over. I know one thing, I feel a lot better for the Chiefs with Mahomes at the controls than now No. 3 QB Tyler Bray.

• ONE WEEK IN — If you saw my other stories on today’s website, McPherson High and McPherson College have in their first full week of practice. Central Christian College’s teams didn’t start until Friday as their student-athletes came in on Thursday.

At this point optimism abounds everywhere. For both MHS and McPherson College, the outlook is extremely positive for all their teams. I went to scrimmages on Saturday for both schools and came away impressed.

There’s a smattering of sports that fire up this week. Good luck to all teams.