Royals Mid-Season Report Card

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After losing the series rubber match in Philly, the Royals reached the midway point of the season. At 43-38, they’re currently pacing at 86-76 – the same record from 2013 when they finished 3.5 games shy of the postseason and just once game off of 2014, when the Royals went from the Wild Card game to the World Series. On the road, they’re 16-27 – better than just three other teams (Twins, Reds, Brewers) – but an MLB-best 27-11 at home. And, with huge home-road splits like that, it’s no surprise that the Royals season has been one hell of a roller coaster. After a 12-6 start, they lost 12 of the next 16, then won 15 of 20, had an 8-game losing streak, won eight of nine, lost 4 straight, and won 4 of 5 before this 1-2 series in Philly.

The offensive splits have been quite drastic home and away, but overall the offense has been OK across the board. From ranking as high as second in batting average (.275) to middle of the road in OBP (.323, 17th) and SLUG (.412, 15th) to 27th (of 30) in HR (73), but in what matters most – scoring – they are near the bottom in MLB, ranking second to last at 4.0 runs per game, which is an increase of 0.4 since the quarter mark of the season. It’s hard to pinpoint why the Royals are so low in scoring based on the stats. It simply can’t be because of the low HR numbers. Earlier in the season, the scoring was down as a direct result to their horrendous hitting with runners in scoring position, which ranked next to last in all of baseball at .200, after finishing second in MLB at .280 last year.  But, now the Royals are up to eighth at .273, so it’s certainly not this, anymore.

Grade: C-

LF Alex Gordon

Current: .215/.314/.350, 6 HR, 13 RBI, 23 R, 60 K, 19 BB, 3 SB

Pace: .215/.314/.350, 12 HR, 26 RBI, 46 R, 120 K, 38 BB, 6 SB

Previous (end of 1st quarter) pace: .211/.319/.331, 15 HR, 38 RBI, 72 R, 188 K, 60 BB, 11 SB

Previous Grade: C-

Alex Gordon has not been worth his 4-year, $72 million contract so far in 2016. Traditionally a slow starter, there is hope Gordon, who is performing well below his career norms (.267/.347/.432) can turn it around, but at the halfway mark of the season, the slow start is becoming concerning that it may simply be a bad season. His track record indicates that he will eventually get going, but when he does, will get close to the player he has been – a ??? dating back to 2011. He’s only played 51 games, thanks to a DL stint, so hopefully Gordon gets going and his numbers will certainly increase. But, despite missing 30 games, he’s still fourth on the team in strikeouts and will surely lead the team in the area by season’s end. But, if he increases that average closer to his career mark, due to his ability to get on base, he could salvage the season.

Grade: D

2B/OF Whit Merrifield

Current: .308/.323/.426, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 26 R, 37 K, 5 BB, 5 SB

Pace: .308/.323/.426, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 52 R, 74 K, 10 BB, 10 SB

Previous (end of 1st quarter) pace: N/A

Previous Grade: INC

Whit Merrifield was a fan’s choice to make the roster out of spring due to his versatility. Two months later, Royals fans got their chance, and all he has done is impress. Added to the roster in place of Christian Colon on May 18, all 2-hit wHIT has done is hit – 17 multi-hit games in 38 starts, hitting in 31 of them. He hit safely in his first 11 starts, tying a Royals rookie record with five consecutive multi-hit games in the process and hitting .360 along the way. He has slowed down a bit since, but it’s hard to complain about the 26-year-old’s season so far. Playing in just 40 games so far, like Gordon, his numbers will increase, although, his AVG could dip a bit. Brought here for his versatility (31 games at 2B, 10 in LF, 3 at 3B, 1 in RF), Merrifield looks like he is here to stay and is very likely the 2B in 2017. His only downside so far is he doesn’t walk. With an OBP just 15 points higher than his batting average, that’s so Royal.

Grade: A

 

DH Kendrys Morales

Current: .264/.328/.465, 14 HR, 45 RBI, 33 R, 60 K, 24 BB, 0 SB

Pace: .264/.328/.465, 28 HR, 90 RBI, 66 R, 120 K, 48 BB, 0 SB

Previous Pace: .190/.244/.323, 19 HR, 64 RBI, 38 R, 136 K, 34 BB, 0 SB

Previous Grade: D

Morales is on pace to lead the team in HR and slugging and could lead the team in RBI. Not bad for a guy who was hitting .193/.245/.304 entering June (thanks to a .163/.245/.304 month of May). Then Cuban Breakfast turned into the Hulk version of the his 2015 Silver Slugger year (.290/.362/.485, 22 HR, 106 RBI). After swinging and missing pitches out of the zone for the first two months, he salvaged his season with an incredible June, where he challenged for AL Player of the Month (Jose Altuve), hitting .402/.453/.655 with 5 HR and 18 RBI. He continued that into the first couple of days of July and is a strong candidate for AL Player of the Week after posting a .577 (15-26) average with 3 doubles, 4 HR, 10 RBI and 6 runs scored.

Before his eight-game hitting streak (7 multi-hit games, 1 2-HR game) ended yesterday, Morales was batting .565 with 7 homers and 21 driven in over his last 13 games.

Historically a better left-handed hitter, Morales is hitting .333/.382/.623 as a righty this year, hitting 6 of his 14 DONGS in 137 less AB than from the left side.

The 7 homers saved Morales from a failing grade last time, and it’s the two bad months to start the season that prevents him from having an A, this time. He is, however, on his way to an A-season. Two of them in a row.

And, he’s an outfielder now!

Grade: B+

1B Eric Hosmer

Current: .303/.363/.484, 12 HR, 48 RBI, 43 R, 68 K, 29 BB, 4 SB

Pace: .303/.363/.484, 24 HR, 96 RBI, 86 R, 136 K, 58 BB, 8 SB

Previous Pace: .311/.367/.522, 30 HR, 79 RBI, 83 R, 117 K, 57 BB, 11 SB

Previous Grade: A

Hosmer was the only Royal who consistently hit over the first two months of the season. His pace has slowed some, but his run production has increased as the players in front of him in the order got going.

I think his homerun pace will continue to lower because he has yet to hit 20 HR in his season as a big leaguer, so until he does it, I won’t believe he can do it. It’s not really who he is, as he averages just 15 a season and hasn’t hit more than 19, in the fewest games played (128) as a rookie.  He is 26 years old now, so if he was going to break out with a big power season, it’s now.

Hosmer was on fire in May (.333/.381/.593 with 5 HR and more than half his RBI, 27) but has hit .257/.350/.366 since with 2 HR and 13 RBI, but that’s part of it in baseball. Although a surprising team leader in strikeouts (69), he’s also the team leader in hits, runs, OBP and OPS and very likely a first-time All-Star, Hosmer’s still on pace for a career year and should lead the team in hitting and has a chance at his first 100-RBI season.

Grade: A-

C Salvador Perez

Current: .281/.315/.490, 12 HR, 37 RBI, 29 R, 67 K, 11 BB, 0 SB

Pace: .281/.315/.490, 24 HR, 74 RBI, 58 R, 134 K, 22 BB, 0 SB

Previous Pace: .245/.327/.442, 23 HR, 79 RBI, 53 R, 132 K, 26 BB, 0 SB

Previous Grade: B+

Perez was producing solid power numbers at the quarter mark of the season, and is pacing out nearly the same in those areas with a big jump in OPS, thanks in part to his increased batting average. Like many of his teammates, he was off to a slow start in April (.240/.275/.507) but produced consecutive productive months at the plate, batting .309/.340/.503 with 8 HR, 23 RBI – by far the best two-month span of Perez’s career. After seeing his OBP drop on a yearly basis, it is improved this year and his SLUG continues to increase. Tied for second on the team in HR, fourth in RBI and second in doubles (9), Perez is second in the AL in HR, and third in MLB and is on pace to set a career-high for the third straight year. The often-used catcher is likely to be only the third Royal to lead the league in votes (George Brett, Bo Jackson), headed to his fourth All-Star Game.

Give me a catcher that plays defense, hits the ball over the fence and wins World Series MVP’s, Gold Gloves and goes to All-Star Game’s any day.

Grade: A

3B Cheslor Cuthbert

Current: .275/.326/.475, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 20 R, 40 K, 9 BB, 1 SB

Pace: .275/.326/.475, 14 HR, 42 RBI, 40 R, 80 K, 2 SB

Previous Pace: .255/.269/.373, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 19 R, 41 K, 4 BB, 0 SB

Previous Grade: B-

Cuthbert has more than held his own in the absence of Mike Moustakas, and to be fair, the production hasn’t fallen of much, which is huge for the Royals. The duo has hit 15 HR in 76 games.

Cuthbert, like Merrifield and Gordon, have not played a full slate of game, so his number should easily surpass his current pace if he maintains. And, if this happens, it raises the question: what will the Royals do with Cuthbert next year?

Still only 23 years old, the Nicaraguan native has a bright future ahead of him and has far exceeded expectations so far in 2016.

Grade: A

OF Paulo Orlando

Current: .326/.352/.422, 1 HR, 16 RBI, 16 R, 41 K, 5 BB, 5 SB

Pace: .326/.352/.422, 2 HR, 32 RBI, 32 R, 82 K, 10 BB, 10 SB

Previous Grade: B

What Orlando has done this year has been admirable. In a soft platoon with Jarrod Dyson earlier in the year, and forced into more playing time when Gordon went down, he took complete advantage and raked at the plate for nearly a month straight, hitting .429/.456/.603 in May with a career-best 14-game hitting streak. His average peaked at .406 on May 24, and carried a .335/.361/.433 line into July after a modest .292 June.

Now, he is coming back to Earth, and to being what Paulo Orlando is: a backup outfielder who is exposed at the plate with regular playing time. And, there’s nothing wrong with that, he is a great role player and is important to the team. I’ll be SHOCKED if he finished the season with a .300 average.

Another Royal who’s OBP is solely dependent on his batting average, as the OBP is only 26 points higher than his average. Probably better suited to be a platoon player, although the 30-year-old, 2nd-year player is hitting .281 against both righties and lefties in his career.

Grade: A

SS Alcides Escobar

Current: .264/.284/.324, 1 HR, 21 RBI, 29 R, 51 K, 10 BB, 11 SB

Pace: .264/.284/.324, 2 HR, 42 RBI, 58 R, 102 K, 20 BB, 22 SB

Previous pace: .261/.298/.342, 0 HR, 45 RBI, 94 K, 30 BB, 38 SB,

Previous Grade: C-

Ned finally got the idea and moved Esky and is horrendous top of the order OBP out of the leadoff spot, albeit to No. 2, then moved him where he belongs, in the lower third of the order. The Royals had success with Escobar there in the past, but a .284 OBP is nowhere close to a recommended number for top of the order, neither is his career as a Royal mark of .297, not to mention the second-worst OPS (.608) among MLB regulars. He is literally the worst option of all regulars to hit near the top of the order. To make matters worse, although he makes contact in 84 percent of his AB and strikes out a mere 15 percent of the time, his average doesn’t reflect it. When he manages to get on base, however, Escobar is one of the most productive players on the roster, as he's second in stolen bases (11) and has scored 29 runs.

That said, Escobar is performing near his career norms (.262/.297/.324) and currently owns a 14-game hitting streak, featuring nine multi-hit games, while raising his average 21 points. The 2015 All-Star, Gold Glove Winner and ALCS MVP has reached base in 19 consecutive games.

Grade: C

OF Jarrod Dyson

Current: .254/.333/.326, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 17 R, 17 K, 15 BB, 12 SB

Pace: .254/.333/.326, 0 HR, 18 RBI, 34 R, 34 K, 30 BB, 24 SB

Previous Grade: B-

Dyson has seen regular playing time against right-handed pitching three different times this season, including right now in center field for the injured Lorenzo Cain. Dyson is getting on at a decent clip and BY FAR has the best strikeout to walk rate (17:15) on the team and leads the team in stolen bases, but does not offer much of anything else offensively and also displays the always impressive higher OBP than SLUG. Still does not have 10 RBI.

Defensive metrics and analytics indicate Dyson is an elite outfielder, but that’s debatable. He certainly has an underrated arm, but it isn’t always accurate. However, he does lead the team in outfield assists (7). He has played each outfield position at least 15 times.

Grade: C

CF Lorenzo Cain

Current: .290/.336/.416, 8 HR, 39 RBI, 39 R, 54 K, 19 BB, 6 SB

Pace: .290/.336/.416, 16 HR, 39 RBI, 78 R, 108 K, 38 BB, 12 SB

Previous Pace: .277/.337/.419, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 77 R, 151 K, 48 B, 18 SB

Previous Grade: B+

Lorenzo Cain suffered a World Series hangover to start the season (.220/.297/.293) in April, but he bounced back strong in May, slashing .351/.387/577 with 6 HR and 25 RBI, showing that last year’s unexpected power might not have been an outlier after all, teasing a 20/20 season and another All-Star selection could be on the horizon for LoCain. A homerless June with only 6 RBI, plus his current DL stint has tempered expectations. It is a little concerning that most of Cain’s offensive production came in one month, but you could say that same for Orlando (May) and although not as extreme as Cain, Hosmer (May) and Morales (June) produced huge months, too.

Grade: B

IF Christian Colon

Current: .284/.346/.311, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R, 13 K, 7 BB, 0 SB

Pace: .284/.346/.311, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 10 R, 26 K, 14 BB, 0 SB

Previous Pace: .255/.269/.373, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 19 R, 41 K, 4 BB, 0 SB

Previous Grade: C

There’s something the Royals organization doesn’t like about Colon, as he was sent down to the minors earlier this year in favor of the uber-verstaile Merrifield last year to “get more AB” last year in favor of Dusty F Coleman. Colon probably will never end up meeting the expectations that comes with a high first-round draft pick, but, he has had a good stick here in his multiple stints, hitting .291 and has got on base better than most Royals (.352 OB1), but has done it with little to no pop, posting just .352 SLUG. This year, his SLUG is 35 points below his OBP. Colon has just 30 AB since his June 8 recall, but 10 hits (.333) with a .394 OBP. All 10 hits have been singles.

He’s a nice role player.

Grade: C+

C Drew Butera

Current: .286/.355/.518, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 10 R, 12 K, 6 BB, 0 SB

Pace: .286/.355/.518, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 20 R, 24 K, 12 BB, 0 SB

Previous Pace: .250/.294/.438, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 19 R, 41 K, 4 BB, 0 SB

Previous Grade: C

Butera does not see a lot of playing time, as he has just 56 AB on the season, and if it weren’t for six games on the mend for Perez, it would be even less. But, when he does play – whether it as a starter, a late-game replacement or a PITCHER – he has been effective. Nine of his 16 hits have went for extra bases and he hit his two homers in consecutive games in Cleveland during the Royals 8-game losing streak while Perez was out.

He’s easily exceeding his career norms (.192/.249/.283), and in a limited role, he has been good. He can also handle the staff and that hair flip, though.

Grade: B-

OF Brett Eibner

Current: .275/.326/.475, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R, 13 K, 3 BB, 0 SB

Pace: .275/.326/.475, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 12 R, 26 K, 6 BB, 0 SB

Previous Pace: N/A

Previous Grade: N/A

Eibner’s debut in the major leagues was worth the wait, as he played great over his first four games in MLB, including becoming the first MLB rookie to record two hits in the ninth inning with one being a walk off (and first player in 20 years) in that miraculous comeback against the White Sox, then he went down with an injury and, as Alex Gordon’s replacement, was on the shelf himself. He came back and hit .208, going back to the minors, but returned when Cain hit the DL. Now likely on to get spot duty, he is hitting .380 against left-handed pitching. The most likely position player to get sent down when Cain returns, hopefully the Royals keep him around and give him a chance at regular playing time in right field. We know what Orlando and Dyson are, but not Eibner. He may too only be a backup outfielder, but there’s only way to find out.

Grade: B

OF Rey Fuentes

Current: .317/.364/.341, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, 8 K, 3 BB, 0 SB

Pace: .317/.364/.341, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 4 R, 16 K, 6 BB, 0 SB

Previous Grade: B-

Another Royal displaying a lower SLUG than OBP, Fuentes has spent two stints with the Royals, and has been fine at the plate, but has been the odd man out both times, going to back to the minors. Hitting his way onto the roster in the spring – aided by Dyson beginning the season on the DL, Fuentes has misplayed two balls in the outfield in his limited time here (13 games), and defense matters in Kansas City (+29 runs saved, best in AL).

Grade: B-

No grades: 3B Mike Moustakas (out for season, ACL), 2B Omar Infante (DFA), OF Terrance Gore, C Tony Cruz

***

To say the Royals pitching has been an adventure this year, wouldn’t be an understatement. The rotation has been awful at times, and the bullpen, while not as automatic as last year, has still been really good. As a result, the entire staff is middle of the road: 13th in ERA (4.10), eighth in batting average against (.250), 12th in WHIP (1.32).

The rotation and bullpen splits are quite noticeable:

Rotation:

  • ERA – 4.97 (25th)
  • IP – 221.2 (30th)
  • AVG against – .261 (11th)
  • BB – 172 (24th)
  • K – 395 (17th)
  • K/BB – 2.30 (23rd)
  • OPS – .785 (25th)
  • HR allowed – 81 (30th)
  • WHIP – 1.41 (19th)
  • Quality Starts –

Bullpen

  • ERA – 2.77 (1st)
  • IP – 279.2 (7th)
  • AVG against – .232 (8th)
  • BB – 91 (10th)
  • K/9 – 8.46 (18th)
  • K/BB – 2.89 (9th)
  • OPS – .658 (5th)
  • HR allowed – 26 (7th)
  • WHIP – 1.18 (5th)

Overall Grade: C

Rotation: D

Bullpen A-

SP Edinson Volquez

Current: 17 GS, 99.1 IP, 5.8 IP/S, 7-7, 4.80 ERA, 1.43 WHIP

Pace: 34 GS, 198.1 IP, 5.8 IP/S, 14-14, 4.80 ERA, 1.43 WHIP

Previous Pace: 33 GS, 199.2 IP, 15-15, 3.79 ERA, 1.39 WHIP

Previous Grade: C+

“Steady” Eddie opened the season in great fashion, going 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA in his first four starts, but went oppo over his next five starts with a 6.00 ERA, winning just one of the five decisions, but, he continued to eat innings, averaging six innings per start. The last two starts of the 5-startbad stretch, he went at least six innings in both, starting a 5-start stretch of six innings or more.

June was really bad to Volquez, posting a 7.00 ERA, going 2-3 over six starts, posting two quality starts (both scoreless outings) and three starts of five runs or more. His last two starts have been a microcosm of his season, which has still featured four scoreless starts: the worst start in MLB history (12 runs – 11 earned – while getting just three outs) followed by 6.2 scoreless innings in St. Louis on Wednesday.   

Volquez has now allowed at least four runs in four of his past six starts. Control has been a huge problem for Volquez, where his 37 walks ranks as the ninth-worst in the AL. The good news is, he has a chance to reach 200 innings, something which can’t be undervalued.

Grade: C-

SP Ian Kennedy

Current: 16 GS, 93.2 IP, 5.9 IP/S, 6-7, 4.04 ERA, 1.19 WHIP

Pace 32 GS, 187.1 IP, 5.9 IP/S, 12-14, 4.04 ERA, 1.19 WHIP

Previous Pace: 33 GS, 184 IP, 15-11, 3.24 ERA, 1.12 WHIP

Previous Grade: A-

Kennedy has been a solid pick-up for the Royals. Averaging a strikeout an inning, he ranks 10th in the AL in strikeouts and has pitched great at the K (3-1, 2.11 ERA in 6 starts), but he has been woeful on the road (3-6, 5.36 ERA, mostly due to homers allowed – only 4 at the K, compared to 16 on the road).  He’s pitched at least six innings 10 times and leads the Royals in quality starts (6), although he only has one since the start of June (6 starts).

Grade: B-

SP Yordano Ventura

Current: 16 GS, 84.2 IP, 5.3 IP/S, 6-6, 5.26 ERA, 1.45 WHIP

Pace: 32 GS, 169.2 IP, 5.3 IP/S, 12-12, 5.26 ERA, 1.45 WHIP

Previous Pace: 33 GS, 177.2 IP, 15-11, 4.81 ERA, 1.56 WHIP

Previous Grade: C

Ventura, who has missed one start due to a suspension, left his start yesterday in Philly early after turning his ankle trying to avoid a tag (don’t get me started on pitchers hitting, but, he is 1-1 on the season), but is expected to start Friday at home against the Mariners.

Ventura’s WHIP is down from his previous pace, but his ERA is way up. He’s tied with Kennedy for second on the team in wins, but he is not pitching well. After allowed just one run in 13.1 innings in back-to-back starts, Ventura has allowed 11 ER over eight innings in his last two starts, increasing his ERA from 4.54, which was the lowest it had been since 3.67 entering May. His strikeout to walk rate has improved greatly, as he has 30 strikeouts to just six walks over his last seven starts after posting 34 strikeouts to 33 walks through his first nine starts. He still ranks seventh in the AL in walks (39).

Throw fire, Ace. Please.

Grade: D+

Danny Duffy

Current: 26 G, 10 GS, 75.1 IP, 4-1, 3.11 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 0 SV, 1 HLD

Pace: 52 G, 20 GS, 150.2 IP, 8-2, 3.11 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 0 SV, 1 HLD

Previous Pace: 68 G, 18 GS, 94.1 IP, 0-0, 2.13 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 0 SV, 2 HLD

Previous Grade: C

Duffy started the 2016 season in the bullpen – the second time in six years – and this time it looked like it was going to be permanent. Despite posting a 3.80 ERA and a 24-30 record in his first five years as a starting pitcher (2015 was his “worst” year as a starter, posting a 4.35 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 51 walks in 24 starts), Duffy’s inconsistency with the strike zone led to high pitch counts and was one of the main factors in landing in the bullpen. In the spring Duffy made insinuated that he preferred to pitch out of the pen, because of the mentality it takes to come into the game and let it fly. There, Duffy finally figured out how to throw strikes. He pounded the zone at a better rate in any year of his career (70%, 6% higher than career mark), striking out 10.4 batters per nine innings (7.6 career) with a 4.20 strikeout to walk ratio. His ERA was at 3.00 with a 1.222 WHIP and opposing batters were slashing .250/.297/.371. Then, the Royals then placed 40% of their rotation (Chris Young, Kris Medlen) on the DL in one day and the Royals had little choice but to insert him back into the rotation. Originally just a temporary move, all he’s done in 10 starts since, is impress going 4-1 with a 3.14 ERA, a sub-1.00 WHIP (0.994), 10.4 K/9, 6.0 strikeout to walk ratio with opponents hitting .220/.276/.411 off of him (10 HR allowed), with half of the starts being deemed “quality.”

The guy inserted into the rotation as a temporary fix, forced Ned Yost’s hand to keep him in the rotation and is now the Royals best starting pitcher. Can we credit Duffy’s transition to the bullpen – learning to throw strikes, cutting down on the walks and increasing his strikeouts – as the reason for Duffy’s success? He’s still throwing strikes, he’s still not walking anyone and he’s doing pitching solely from the stretch, but it’s probably mostly due to maturity more than anything else. And his last two starts have been his best, allowing just four runs in 16.2 innings (2.16 ERA) while striking out 16 and walking none – giving him at least eight strikeouts in five of his last six starts, walking no one in three of those starts. After tossing eight innings in Monday, which tied his career-high for innings, he surpassed it yesterday, getting within one out of a complete game in the 6-2 win.

Grade: A

SP Chris Young

Current: 14 G, 12 GS, 57.2 IP, 2-7, 6.24 ERA, 1.60 WHIP

Pace: 28 G, 24 GS, 115.1 IP, 4-14, 6.24 ERA, 1.60 WHIP

Previous Pace: 33 GS, 199.2 IP, 15-15, 3.79 ERA, 1.39 WHIP

Previous Grade: F

Young was a great success story for the Royals last season – especially early in the season, but it’s also evident that he isn’t suited to last a whole season in the rotation. Expected to be the bridge until Mike Minor is ready (expected back in June, but his rehab was halted on May 31 with “shoulder fatigue,” and hasn’t resumed throwing live games, yet), he didn’t make it that long, losing his spot to Dillon Gee before heading to the DL in mind-May, but returned to the rotation after two relief appearances upon his return.

Like Volquez and Kennedy, owns a drastic home-road split, and much like Kennedy, has a HORRENDOUS HR rate, allowing 14 HR in just 25 innings, as opposed to 8 in 32 (8 games, 6 starts) at home. Homers have plagued him all year, where his 22 allowed ranks last in MLB, despite pitching just 57.2 innings and has allowed a gopher ball in each of his 12 starts, closing in on Runelvys Hernandez’s franchise record (13 straight starts). His ERA away from the K is over 9, and he is winless in six starts with an eye-popping .340 average against. Wow. At 2-7 overall with a 6.24 ERA, like Volquez, he had still been really good at home before a terrible outing (2.1 IP, 7 ER). Now owning a 4.45 ERA at home, with a .500 record (2-2), he did have a 2.70 ERA and a 10.20 K/9.

Young is done. He has another start coming tomorrow in Toronto, and everyone knows what will happen. But, until Yost thinks he has a better option, he’ll keep trotting him out there.

Grade: F

DL’d Kris Medlen

Current: 6 GS, 24.1 IP, 4.1 IP/S, 1-3, 7.77 ERA, 2.05 WHIP

Pace: 12 GS, 48.2 IP, 4.1 IP/S, 2-6, 7.77 ERA, 2.05 WHIP

Previous Grade: F

Medlen owns of one of the best road splits (24-10, 3.20 ERA) in all of baseball, it’s no surprise that Medlen’s one “quality” start came away from home, and that he has a 3.86 ERA away from the K, but still with a 1.66 WHIP, which is still not nearly as bad as his 2.05 season mark. His last two starts before hitting the DL in mid-May, were simply awful, laboring through four innings, allowing 10 earned runs, seeing his ERA climb from 4.87 to its current 7.77. He lasted fewer than four innings in three of his six starts this year and has issued more walks (20) than strikeouts (18).

Medlen was set to return to Kansas City around the All-Star break, but had a setback in what was scheduled to be his last rehab outing, walking off the mound after a pitch in the middle of an inning. He has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 Shoulder Strain and has been shut down for a couple weeks.

Grade: F

Dillon Gee

Current: 17 G, 4 GS, 53.1 IP, 3-2, 4.05 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 0 SV, 0 HLD

Pace: 34 G, 8 GS, 106.2 IP, 6-4, 4.05 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 0 SV, 0 HLD

Previous Grade: B-

Gee is the other pitcher to start a game this year for the Royals, and over four starts, he produced one quality start, going 2-2 with a 6.05 ERA, 1.810 WHIP and a woeful .354 opponents batting average. So, if the Royals finally decide to remove Young from the rotation again, he isn’t much of a better option.

He has allowed 11 HR in just over 53 innings, but in the bullpen, Gee has given the Royals some valuable innings in blowouts and/or when the starter exited early, which has happened way too much so far this season.

Grade: C

RP Wade Davis

Current: 30 G, 29.1 IP, 1-0, 1.23 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 19 SV, 0 HLD

Pace: 60 G, 58.2 IP, 2-0, 1.23 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 38 SV, 0 HLD

Previous Pace: 60 G, 57.2 IP, 4-0, 1.15 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 41 SV, 0 HLD

Previous Grade: A

The cyborg Wade Davis blew a save two outings ago (second of the season) Wednesday night in St. Louis in a game where the Royals blew two saves, but still won in extra innings. He bounced back the following night and earned a save. Despite having just five save opportunities in the entire month of June, he still ranks fifth in the AL in saves, has allowed runs in just four appearances and is holding opponents to a .176/.276/.186 slash and certainly headed toward another All-Star selection.

Grade: A

RP Kelvin Herrera

Current: 39 G, 38.2 IP, 1-1, 1.40 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 0 SV, 21 HLD

Pace: 78 G, 76.2 IP, 2-2, 1.40 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 0 SV, 42 HLD

Previous Pace: 87 G, 83.1 IP, 0-4, 0.81 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 0 SV, 41 HLD

Previous Grade: A

Part of arguably the best 8-9 combo in all of baseball, Herrera is also a candidate for consecutive All-Star selections. The AL holds leader has posted a 1.98 ERA or better in every month this season, including a scoreless 13 appearance April.  He’s allowed a run in only five outings and has dramatically improved his control, with career best’s 11.8 K/9 AND 1.6 BB/9.

If you get into the eighth inning, losing to the Royals, chances of a comeback are bleak.

Grade: A

RP Luke Hochevar

Current: 33 G, 31 IP, 1-1, 2.90 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 0 SV, 12 HLD

Pace: 66 G, 62 IP, 2-2, 2.90 ERA, 0/94 WHIP, 0 SV, 24 HLD

Previous Pace: 72 G, 72.1 IP, 4-0, 2.79 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 0 SV, 30 HLD

Previous Grade: B+

Papa Hoch actually has a better WHIP than Davis and Herrera and despite some out there thinking he doesn’t have what it takes to pitch in high-leverage situations, Ned thinks otherwise, throwing him out there with runners on, sort of the fireman – the Ryan Madson role. Hoch has quietly been very good out of the ‘pen.

Grade: B+

RP Joakim Soria

Current: 37 G, 37.1 IP, 3-3, 3.13 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 1 SV, 12 HLD

Pace: 74 G, 74.2 IP, 6-6, 3.13 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 2 SV, 24 HLD

Previous Pace: 83 G, 83.1 IP, 8-4, 3.63 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 4 SV, 26 HLD

Previous Grade: C

Soria was the closer for the Royals years ago, saving 40 or more games twice as a legit All-Star, before making stops in Texas, Detroit and Pittsburgh after having his arm worked on. His return to Kansas City, so far, has been inconsistent, if not anything else. Early in the season, he was booed by the home crowd, and makes Royals fans nervous the way Greg Holland did last year. Brought here to be the set-up man to Davis, he lost the job to Herrera, and rightfully so, and now shares the next in line role with Hochevar. He has been much better lately, with 18 scoreless outing of 21, posting a 1.94 ERA and 1.09 WHIP lowering his ERA to a season low 2.94 ERA from 7.00 before allowing runs in two of his last three outings.

Soria has 203 career saves, including one this year, but he is just 1-for-3 in opportunities when Davis has been unavailable as mysteriously Ned has chose to bypass No. 2 man in the bullpen Soria when the time arises. Soria is striking batters out at a career-low 21.4-percent clip and his walk rate is pushing 10 percent.

He has not been bad, but he’s been bad at really poor times.

Grade: B-

RP Peter Moylan

Current: 13 G, 18.2 IP, 2-0, 3.38 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 0 SV, 0 HLD

Pace: 26 G, 36.2 IP, 4-0, 3.38 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 0 SV, 0 HLD

Previous Pace: N/A

Previous Grade: N/A

Moylan, the Aussie, is in his second stint in the big leagues this year for KC, and although he has not pitched in many high leverage situations, he has done a solid job, allowing runs in just 25% of his outings. For his role, he has been fine.

Grade: B

RP Brian Flynn

Current: 11 G, 22 IP, 1-0, 2,86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 0 SV, 0 HLD

Pace: 22 G, 44 IP, 2-0, 2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 0 SV, 0 HLD

Flynn, like Gee, has given the Royals some valuable innings when the Royals need them, and he has been solid in his role as a middle/long reliever this year since his recall. He will not pitch in many times with the game on the line, but he may earn that, especially against lefties, if he continues to perform.

Grade: B-

RP Chien-Ming Wang

Current: 25 G, 33 IP, 5-0, 3.82 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 0 SV, 0 HLD

Pace: 50 G, 55 IP, 10-0, 3.82 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 0 SV, 0 HLD

Previous Pace: 48 G, 55.2 IP, 7-0, 3.07 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 0 SV, 0 HLD

Previous Grade: C+

Wang is a ground ball pitcher who seems to be at the bottom of the bullpen totem pole, and he has done just fine in that role – usually cleaning up in losses. However, he has fell into some wins – two in extra innings and three others after the Royals rallied.

Grade: B

RP Scott Alexander

Current: 9 G, 13 IP, 0-0, 4.85 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 0 SV, 0 HLD

Pace: 18 G, 26 IP, 0-0, 4.85 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 0 SV, 0 HLD

Brought up as bullpen depth when Gee and Duffy moved into the rotation, Alexander was outstanding. His best effort came in the 13-inning win over Atlanta on May 15, when he tossed 3 scoreless innings after throwing 31 pitches the day before. Huge. Since, he’s allowed runs in five of his last five, spanning two stints in the bigs. He’s currently in Omaha

Grade: C

No grades: Alec Mills (1 appearance)

***

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianGraham624 and @KCSportsNation

 

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