Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers - examining the "threat"

While it appears the Tigers devastated the Indians with a four-game sweep in Cleveland last weekend, the Kansas City Royals have emerged as a threat. Of course, "threat" is a relative term.
The Royals, their 1-0 loss at Miami Tuesday night aside, have been winning a lot of games.  The Royals were 8-20 in May and apparently done. They are 39-21 since June 4 and decided against being sellers at the trade deadline. But it nonetheless underscores the frustration the rest of the American League Central has vs. the Tigers.
Tigers, Royals: Is it going to be a pennant race?
They have gained exactly one game in the standings. The Tigers lead the Royals by 6.5 games heading into Wednesday. They were up on KC by 7.5 games before the Royals turned around their season.
Five-game series (this one caused by an earlier weather postponement) are rare, but the Royals come to Detroit this weekend for a 5-game set that will be perceived as huge in KC.
I'm surprised by the Royals' turnaround. Statistically, it doesn't make sense. They are offensively challenged. The Tigers have scored 129 more runs than the Royals, who are 11th in the AL. The Royals team OPS is .694, well below the AL average.(.725).
James Shields and Ervin Santana have stabilized the Royals starting pitching, and closer Greg Holland is having a brilliant season, but it's not like the Royals pitching is daunting, despite leading the AL with a 3.52 ERA. On paper, these two teams aren't even close (the Tiger's team ERA is second in the AL at 3.55).
The Royals have traditionally given the Tigers trouble head-to-head, though, and this season has been no exception. The Tigers have a 13-3 record against Cleveland, but are 3-5 against the Royals, who won two of three games at Comerica Park as recently as late July.
All the Tigers must do against the Royals this weekend is win two of the five games. If they do that, the damage in the standings will be minimal - regardless what happens Wednesday. The schedule, which is running down, will be shortened.
Only if the Royals win four games in the series will the momentum shift in the division race be significant.
As is, 11 of the Tigers final 43 games (26 percent) will be against the Royals. Nearly half those games will be gone after this weekend.
This is a replay of our live chat Wednesday on the Tigers, Lions and Michigan and MSU football:


Blogger Karl Ziomek said...

I share your analysis, except to go a little deeper and give KC more credit. The Tigers starting pitching is clearly better than the Royals, but in an important category (inning eaters) KC gained tons of ground this year. That enables the Royals to get to a bullpen that is deeper and stronger that Detroit's. Two other things jump out at me about KC -- they play good defense and they can run and generate runs. The Tigers have a tendency to score in bunches, which makes them look statistically better than they are. The Royals have a tendency to play the Tigers tight, which makes defense and speed a priority. I don't know about you, but KC scares me more than anyone else in the division, including the Tribe.

1:22 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

I agree that we are perhaps over reacting to the Royals - given they still sit 7.5 games back and 1.5 behind Cleveland. But ... this Jim Leyland era of the Tigers this last decade does have a history of big leads eroding - so I can't really completely dismiss the paranoia.

With Miggy in his current state of pain, Infante trying shake the rust off while trying to continue his recovery, and worries about Avila's durabiliy - as well as Scherzer's apparent cooling down - the boys aren't as hot as they were. Now with this disctraction of Princes personal life ... and Infante and Iglacia working out the kinks in their combo up the middle - the Tiger's pace has slowed.

They just have to grind through this August - and find something to re-spark the inspiration.

But looking over the shoulder at the Royals and Cleveland is just what a pennant race is supposed to be.

So far so good.

10:11 AM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home