The Royals come out of their second-to-last offday of the season and into what sure looks like a critical road trip.
The Royals are one game up on the Tigers — a half-game if you don’t think they’re coming back from two down in the bottom of the 10th in that suspended game against the Indians — as they play three at Yankee Stadium this weekend, then three more in Detroit next week.
They are 77-61, officially, and at this point it probably figures that the winners of the AL Central and second wild card will have around 90 wins.
Here, then, is the DKTM scientific model^ projection on the Royals’ final 24 games. It got a little dramatic at the end here.
^ Not scientific in any way, unless you count the Internet technology to bring you this minor timesuck.
Friday through Sunday, three games at Yankees: The Royals have the advantage in the pitching matchup in each game — Shields against Pineda tonight, Duffy and McCarthy tomorrow, and Ventura and Greene on Sunday. Traditionally, the Royals have never played well at Yankee Stadium, but traditionally, the Royals have stunk and the Yankees have been very, very good. Neither is true this year. The Royals should expect to win two of three, so now they’re 79-62 going to Detroit.
Monday through Wednesday, three games at Tigers: This will be the Royals’ biggest series of the season so far (likely trumped by a three-game weekend series at home against the Tigers Sept. 19-21) and they’ll see three premier pitchers. It’ll be Guthrie against Verlander on Monday, Vargas and Scherzer on Tuesday, and, likely, Shields and Porcello on Wednesday. The way this season has gone, that’s an even pitching matchup Monday, Tigers’ advantage on Tuesday, and Royals’ edge on Wednesday. This isn’t like the Yankees series this weekend, but the goal still needs to be two of three, so they’re 81-63 and feeling terrific coming home for the final homestand of the season.
Sept. 11-14, four games vs. Red Sox: Boston is listing TBA as its starting pitcher as early as Monday, so I’m not going to guess on who they’ll pitch in Kansas City. The Royals, assuming they stay in order, would go with Duffy, Ventura, Guthrie and Vargas. A split here would be fine, so now they’re 83-65 and likely with a game or two lead in the division.
Sept. 15-17, three games vs. White Sox: Again, if we’re staying in order, the Royals will be pitching Shields, Duffy, and Ventura. That’s pretty strong, but for some reason, in this highly scientific and foolproof prediction model, this feels like one where the Royals aren’t getting what they expect. They win one of three, and are now 84-67.
Sept. 19-21, three games vs. Tigers: This will be the most important series of the season, with Guthrie, Vargas and Shields kinda-sorta projected to pitch. Losing this series would feel like a wreck, especially with the suspended-game loss looming in Cleveland. Winning this series would feel like champagne. Two of three. 86-68.
Sept. 22-24, four* games at Indians: The asterisk is for the suspended game makeup, which will be played before the first game of the series. You have to figure they lose that one, but if there’s a silver lining it’s that the Indians will presumably use their closer, who would presumably be unavailable or at least fatigued in the full game to follow. Hold on for a split here. 88-70.
Sept. 25-28, four games at White Sox: So, this would, absolutely, be the most important series of Royals baseball since the 1985 World Series. The White Sox will be out of the race, but the Tigers finish with four at home against the Twins, who are also out of the race. An incredible amount of scoreboard watching, if things go the way they’re looking.
Our scientific model here has the Royals splitting, winning 90 games, and tying the Tigers. The model also has the Mariners winning the second wild card with 91 wins, meaning the Royals and Tigers have a one-game playoff on Monday, Sept. 29 — the same day the Chiefs play the Patriots at Arrowhead.
Unfortunately, the Tigers would get homefield advantage by virtue of winning the season series against the Royals, but, still.
How effing fun would that be?