Now that the first week of the Royals season is in the books, I decided to write about some of the things that I saw from the first week of the season. The Royals are 2-4 and are currently sitting two and a half games behind the first place Minnesota Twins. Who would have thought that we would be saying that the Twins would be first in the AL Central one week in? Don’t act like you did. Anyway, here are the three main takeaways I have following the first week of the season.
The bullpen needs help
The Royals bullpen has been nothing short of abysmal. Manager Ned Yost has tried putting in numbers of guys from Jake Diekman to Kyle Zimmer but not one pitcher has managed to get multiple scoreless innings. Ian Kennedy showed flashes of being a closer in the second game of the season but that was short-lived. As for the rest of the bullpen, it’s been a struggle.
Just how bad has this bullpen been? The nine relievers that have pitched so far this season have an ERA composed of 8.35. It gets worse, the walks per nine innings are at 11.8, the hits per nine innings are at 11.7, and the opposition average for all of the ‘pen are above .250. To put this in regular terms, this is not a good bullpen. And it certainly needs to shape up for the Royals to be competitive this year.
But the hitting has been excellent
This is by far the biggest strength of this Royals team. Kansas City have scored 30 runs over the first 6 games, tied for 11th in the league. They have also 14 extra base hits and have put together numbers that look very promising. While most stats will tell you that they are around in the league average, this is not normal for a Royals team. Usually the pitching will be excellent and they will struggle to bat a runner in but this time has been different. A few players in particular are getting the fans excited.
One player that has been instrumental in driving the Royals offense is Adalberto Mondesi. He has had nine hits, five of them being for extra bases, 5 RBIs, a home run, and a stolen base. This has led to a 1.115 OPS and a .346 batting average, leading the team in both. Jorge Soler has been another. While he doesn’t have the numbers that Mondesi has, Soler has by far been a very good situational hitter. His RBI total along with his calmness at the plate are two factors that can go a long way during this Royals rebuild. Alex Gordon, too, has had a very strong start to what hopefully is a bounce back season. The amount of walks he has drawn along with his hits are showing that he has finally settled in and is starting to look like the player the Royals want him to be.
So, where can the Royals go from here?
They haven’t been as bad as their record shows. With a somewhat decent bullpen, you could argue that this team should be standing at 4-1. But that hasn’t happened and the Royals will look to march back up the division standings when they face the Detroit Tigers tomorrow afternoon. If their bullpen can begin to put together some scoreless innings, then the Royals should start winning some games.
However, it will not be easy. Getting a bullpen to put together a string of good performances isn’t as easy as flipping a switch, it is a lot harder than that and it takes time for everyone in the bullpen to really know their roles. While some fans will argue that the Royals should bring up younger players, remember that it is still very early into the season. Give this team another week or two and if it really doesn’t start working, then maybe make a change. But I don’t see much reason to panic about right now. What I see is a team that will not give up and continues to show a lot of fight even when things are not going well.