*Disclaimer: I wrote this on a plane ride to Florida, so it may or may not be very accurate, and/or very insightful. But hey, I had to give you something.
Just when we thought the Royals were going to cruise through the rest of May, they veered off the side of the road and right into a ditch. While trying to pull themselves out, the Minnesota Twins were speeding by, and have found themselves in first place, leaving the Royals 0.5 GB.
The Royals finished May with a horrendous road trip, getting swept by the Yankees and splitting a rain shortened two game series with the Cubs. The postponed game will by played the last week of the season, so let’s hope the Royals are playing a little better by then.
The Royals have historically been bad in May, but this year wasn’t too unbearable. They spent most of the month in inter-league play, took 2 of 3 from the Cardinals, and managed to stay above .500 (14-12). Overall, I guess you could say it was a successful month, but they pretty much gave up in that last week.
The starting rotation seems to have lost themselves, except for Chris Young who has really stepped up in the midst of absences from Vargas and Duffy. Guthrie isn’t necessarily on top of his game, and Yordano has gotten back to his ways of spitting fire. There are parts that are clicking, and parts that aren’t. The Royals probably need all of them to click if they want to win a lot.
Lorenzo Cain has come back down to earth after an insane first month and a half to the season, but we all expected that to happen. He went through a similar rough patch in 2014, but managed to get out of it. Just your usual ups and downs that players suffer. I expect him to continue being a key component to the offense.
Meanwhile, Kendrys Morales is proving to be one hell of an acquisition for this team. Billy Butler will forever by my favorite Royals player, but right now Morales is outperforming him in every facet. Most notable is the extra power Morales provides that we all wanted so badly to see from Butler. Simply put, Morales is a more consistent, more disciplined player than Butler. Sure, he still has those occasional ugly swings and misses, but that’s expected from a guy who is swinging for the fences every at bat.
Were halfway through the season, and the Royals are just a half game behind first, among the top 5 in national power rankings, and getting attention they deserve. They’ve knocked that chip off their shoulder, and are starting to play like a winning team, which they are. This “young” team (It’s not really that young) is gaining confidence, and finding ways to win.
June presents a unique opportunity for the Royals, as they only have two divisional series, starting with the Indians this week. We know what Cleveland is capable of, and that isn’t much. Nobody is sure if Minnesota is simply on a hot streak right now or if this is really how they are going to play for the rest of the season, but they are complicating things in the division. The Royals face them in mid-June, so let’s hope the standings have swapped by then.
The most important thing for the Royals right now is their starting rotation. They’ve been fading away as of late, and need to pick up the slack to keep the bullpen fresh. Any bullpen, no matter how great it is, can only stay effective is the starting rotation goes 6+ innings every outing. If they can do that in June, the Royals will be in a perfect position heading into the All-Star Break.