Judging the Royals

Lee Judge breaks down the Royals, game by game.

Royals Live

Don’t overreact to early season numbers

Back when John Buck was a Royal, he got off to a hot start one year and that led the Kansas City Star to wonder if John Buck could hit .400. Since John Buck had never hit .300 over a full season, it seemed unlikely. Turned out it was; Buck’s best season left him 119 points short of .400 and as of this writing Buck has a lifetime average of .234.

Overreacting to early season numbers is generally a mistake.

Things change rapidly at this point of a baseball season. Eric Hosmer entered Tuesday night’s game hitting .275—if you want to overreact that could be cause for concern. Hosmer picked up four hits and ended the game hitting .311—overreact and you might start talking batting title.

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By LEE JUDGE. 2 minutes ago

The slider that changed the game

The slider that changed the game came in the sixth inning. Let’s set the scene: the Indians had taken a two-run lead on a fourth inning home run by Michael Brantley. Coming into the game Brantley had hit .211 off Royals starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and had grounded out in his first at-bat. With a runner on second base Guthrie fell behind Brantley 2-1; a fastball count. Instead of throwing a fastball, Guthrie threw a changeup. But the changeup was elevated in the zone and then elevated into the right field seats—Indians up 2-0. The Royals took the lead right back in the top of the fifth, 3-2 (more on that below).

Now back to the sixth inning:

Nick Swisher led off the inning with a double and the left-handed Jason Kipnis stepped to the plate. Kipnis is a 3-hole hitter and teams don’t always ask 3-hole hitters to give themselves up and move runners over to third. Teams often want their 3-hole hitters to drive the runner all the way in.

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By LEE JUDGE. yesterday

Yordano Ventura opens up

If you want to know what went wrong for Yordano Ventura and the Royals on Sunday, take a look at the first two batters in the fifth inning. The score was 3-0 Twins—the Royals still had a shot—and Ventura had the inning’s leadoff hitter, Trevor Plouffe, 0-2. Catcher Salvador Perez set up low and away—why give a guy 0-2 anything to hit?—but Ventura missed high in the zone. Plouffe hit a triple.

Ventura then got the next hitter, Chris Colabello, into a 2-2 count and Perez set up low in the zone, but Ventura missed high. Ventura hit a single.

After the game Ned Yost said Yordano Ventura struggled to repeat his mechanics. Specifically, Ventura was "opening up." When a pitcher’s front side opens up too soon it causes a chain reaction. Picture a stack of building blocks and then imagine what would happen if you pulled the bottom block toward you; the top block would fall and it would fall away from you.

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By LEE JUDGE. yesterday

Chen + pen = win

Danny Duffy came out of the pen and threw 96 miles an hour. He also threw a curve and a changeup. Wade Davis followed Duffy and matched that velocity with his fastball—96—and also threw a curve and a cutter. Greg Holland closed the game and touched 97 with his fastball and also threw a slider and what MLB.com called a changeup, but might actually be a splitter.

This is what they mean when they talk about power arms out of the bullpen; guys who throw in the mid-to-upper nineties. Throw that hard and hitters have to start their swings sooner and when hitters start their swings sooner they’re out in front of all those curveballs, changeup, cutters and sliders.

As Star reporter Blair Kerkhoff wrote earlier today, the Royals bullpen has now thrown 14 consecutive scoreless innings. They scuffled early, but recently the bullpen has been lights out. Lucky for Bruce Chen; he threw five innings and gave up four earned runs. Bruce left the game with a lead, but leads don’t get much smaller. The score was 5-4 when Chen came off the mound and thanks to Duffy, Davis and Holland it was still 5-4 when the game was over.

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By LEE JUDGE. 3 days ago

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About the Blog

Judging the Royals is an inside look at baseball and the Kansas City Royals. Lee Judge watches every game, talks to the players and brings their point of view back to the fans.