Judging the Royals

Royals designated hitters: Billy Butler vs. Kendrys Morales

The Royals' Kendrys Morales ran the bases after hitting a three-run home run off Indians relief pitcher Bryan Shaw in the seventh inning on Tuesday in Cleveland. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer scored on the play.
The Royals' Kendrys Morales ran the bases after hitting a three-run home run off Indians relief pitcher Bryan Shaw in the seventh inning on Tuesday in Cleveland. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer scored on the play. AP

Last night, the TV guys put up statistics to show how similar the Royals current designated hitter’s numbers are to the Royals’ former DH: Billy Butler is currently hitting .313, has three home runs and 12 RBIs. Kendrys Morales is hitting .321, also has three home runs and has 14 RBIs.

But there is a difference: Kendrys runs much better than Billy. Heck, I’ve got a 25-year-old air conditioner that runs better than Billy. (Honestly, I shouldn’t make fun of him; unless there’s a half-price sale on Bud Light, I don’t run anywhere at all.)

So where were we?

Oh, yeah, Billy Butler. When Billy was here he had a difficult time going first-to-third or second-to-home, and for Billy to score from first base on a double required planets aligning and some sort of outfielder-related heart attack.

As you might suspect, the difference in their foot speed has shown up in runs: Butler has scored 11, Morales 17. I’m not much good at predicting the future — I thought the Internet was a passing fad — but I’d guess that that gap in runs will widen as the season progresses.

You can throw fastballs in fastball counts, but you might want to duck

Fastball counts like 2-0 make hitters salivate. They know there’s a good chance they’re getting a fastball, so they gear up for the heater. If a pitcher still wants to throw a fastball to a guy who’s looking for one, the pitcher needs to locate it.

Tuesday night, Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer threw Alex Gordon a 2-0 fastball but located it in the middle of the strike zone. Gordon swung and then located that fastball 428 feet away. Alex hit it over the seats in GA, and the last time I saw the ball, it was bouncing down a concourse.

So if a pitcher throws a fastball in a fastball count, he better hit a corner — or duck.

How you know which relievers are available

We probably saw Brandon Finnegan on Tuesday night because Franklin Morales pitched both Monday and Sunday. Most of the time you can do the math yourself: If a relief pitcher has gone back-to-back, there’s a decent chance he’s getting the next night off. That’s not true 100 percent of the time — certain situations and pitchers can change things — but it’s true often enough for me to write it down and point it out to you.

OK, so let’s do the math: Tuesday night Finnegan, Chris Young, Jason Frasor and Yohan Pino pitched. On Monday it was Ryan Madson, Morales, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis.

Since no relief pitcher went back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday, it looks like all the relievers will be available on Wednesday — unless Kelvin Herrera is sent to Devil’s Island to serve his suspension. (Just kidding, they don’t send suspended players to Devil’s Island; they send them to Alcatraz.)

The backup catcher

This past winter I wrote a piece asking who was going to be the backup catcher; if Ned Yost really planned on giving Salvador Perez more rest, were the Royals satisfied with giving Erik Kratz more playing time?

Yesterday, Boy Wonder and Gout Sufferer Andy McCullough reported that the Royals were “interested” in Jarrod Saltalamacchia. This is a move I would firmly oppose — I’m gonna have to look up how to spell that last name every time he plays.

Isn’t anyone named Jones available?

On the radio this morning

If I wrote it down correctly I’ll be talking baseball on KCUR this morning at 10:30 a.m. If I didn’t write it down correctly you’ll be listening to someone who’s mad at me.

Join the club.

To reach Lee Judge, call 816-234-4482 or send email to ljudge@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @leejudge8.

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