Five years ago today, Eric Hosmer played his first baseball game in Kansas City. Earlier this week, I was looking back at that 2011 season — preparing to write this story — and I had forgotten that the Royals were actually 17-14 when Hosmer arrived. They would eventually lose 91 games that year, and these two facts are a pretty good thing to think about as the Royals, 14-13, open a three-game series in Cleveland tonight.
The Royals have come a long way in the last five years, and it’s probably wise to not get too hung up about a team’s record on May 6.
Before we get to the #Mailbag, the podcast recommendation is “Deep Background,” The Star’s political podcast with smart people. The random album recommendation is “The Monitor” by Titus Andronicus, which is somehow 6 years old. Also: The guys from the afternoon show on 610 Sports Radio are doing a cool thing here.
To the Mailbag.
The Royals believe Terrance Gore is a valuable weapon with an elite tool who can help a team win baseball games right now. They have given fewer indications that they see him as a part of their future — at least in more than a part-time role.
Gore will turn 25 years old in June. The Royals were comfortable with him missing a month of at-bats while serving as a pinch runner in April and early May. That says a lot.
“The one tool that he has, his best tool, it helps us win ball games right now,” Yost said a few weeks ago. “So that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Gore batted .284 with a .367 on-base percentage at Class AA Northwest Arkansas last season, and it would be easy to compare him to Jarrod Dyson, who began his career as a part-time player before turning into something of a regular. Gore, however, is 3 inches shorter than Dyson and lacks any semblance of power. In 425 career minor-league games, Dyson posted a .346 slugging percentage. Gore’s career slugging percentage is .278. He has zero homers and just 33 extra-base hits in 416 minor-league games.
Good question, Cupcakes. As of earlier this week, Kyle Zimmer had made three appearances in extended spring training games. He will continue to build up his innings, assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said, and at some point, he will continue to do that in the low minors. Probably either at Lexington or Wilmington. If everything keeps progressing, he’ll eventually likely land at Class AAA Omaha.
Right-hander Dillon Gee would likely be positioned to land a spot-start if that need presented itself. But all signs point to Chris Young and Kris Medlen getting extended opportunity in the rotation.
Young has not gone deep into games, which is problematic. But according to his peripheral numbers, he has pitched better than his results. Since getting knocked around for six runs in a start at Houston on April 11, Young has posted a 4.95 ERA in four starts, allowing 11 runs in 20 innings. But …
His xFIP for the season — which neutralizes defense and home run rates — is 4.63. He is striking out 8.8 guys per nine innings, which is better than his career average. His home run/fly ball rate is 17.4 percent, more than double his career average.
In other words: As a fly-ball pitcher, Young is always going to give up some homers. But he’s giving up a ton of them, and if that rate regresses back to the mean, Young can still be a worthy fourth or fifth starter.
The Royals also have left-hander Mike Minor rehabbing in Arizona. According to club officials, he could head out on a rehab assignment at some point in May. His velocity has been impressive during extended spring training outings, but after shoulder surgery last summer, it’s probably best to exercise caution in projecting what he might provide during the second half of the season.
Small sample size alert, but after beating the Washington Nationals on Thursday, the Cubs are 21-6 and winning 77.8 percent of their games. They have outscored opponents by 96 runs in 27 games, which is quite absurd.