I’ve been thinking about my next Royals post for a couple weeks. In the interim, they had a slow and steady descent into their first extended cold spell of the season.

It began with concerns about pitching, as each member of the starting rotation had at least one terrible start and both Jason Vargas and Danny Duffy landed on the Disabled List.

Soon, though, the Same Old Royals appeared at the plate. The entire team began hacking at the first halfway decent pitch and kept hacking with no concern for working the pitch count. Each night, as the game rolled into the middle innings, the Royals’ starter would be sitting in the 60s or 70s in total pitches, while his opposing number was still comfortably in the 40s. There were far too many single-digit pitch innings for whoever the Royals were batting against.

But the pitching has steadied[1] The offense might be waking up, although with this team you never can tell. And the defense, as always, has been pretty rock-solid.

So despite their worst stretch of the season, the Royals are back in first place and go to St. Louis this weekend to face the best team in the National League sporting the best record in the American League. Perhaps most importantly Detroit has been playing terrible of late and are 4.5 games back. And Cleveland, the team that could be the biggest threat in the AL Central because of its starting pitching, is 7.5 back and four games under .500.

Even when they were losing nine of 11, I kept thinking the Royals were good enough to get the offense rolling again. They were just stuck in the inevitable bad stretch that every team encounters in a 162-game season. They may not match their 7-game winning streak that began the season. But there was every reason to think they could rip off a 9–2 streak to balance their recent scuffling. I don’t know that they’ve started that yet, but a four-game winning streak isn’t a bad thing.

I just wish they could figure out a way not to have every bat go cold at once. Although it’s going to be fun if they can get every bat hot again in the next couple weeks.

I love, LOVE, all the hang-wringing about Royals fans stuffing the virtual ballot boxes for the All-Star game. This opinion is not original, but you never hear complaining from the national media when the rosters are filled with Yankees and Red Sox, or when guys five years past their primes keep getting voted in as starters.

The All-Star game has always been a popularity contest. That’s why they let fans vote on the starters. The Royals are just one franchise in a league of 30 teams. There are 29 other cities that can go overboard for their players just as easily. Or, join forces to make the “right” decision to vote in the best statistical player at each position.

I also loved the Royals using their first two draft picks on pitchers from the Indianapolis area. Ashe Russell is from the school where my wife and her siblings went, and where our daughters are most likely to go. Nolan Watson likely grew up pretty close to S’s office. I didn’t see either kid pitch this year, but knew both of their names from hype before the season began. Never thought that the Royals would pick one, let alone both, of them. It would be awfully cool if both sign with the Royals and are pitching in Kansas City in 4–5 years.

  1. It was never as bad as some claimed. There were a number of individual bad starts sprinkled in there. But it’s not like the whole staff was suddenly giving up 5 earned runs per nine innings.  ↩