KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just 33 games to go, Royals fans, with 20 of them at home.
Buckle up. It’s bound to be a wild and crazy ride.
DON’T WEAKEN A STRENGTH
There’s been some talk lately about whether the Royals can truly afford to dish out in the neighborhood of $15 million for Wade Davis and Greg Holland next season.
Davis’ contract calls for a club option at $7 million in 2015. Holland, who will make $4.68 million this year, is arbitration eligible again and could see his salary spike toward the $8 million range.
Yes, that’s a significant chunk of the payroll for two relievers. But as one rival scout told me recently: "Can they really afford not to pay them? That’s how they win games, because of that bullpen. To me, that’s not overpaying. Most GMs would pay it just for the peace of mind they bring. Think Detroit would like those two guys?"
Indeed, the Royals are 60-1 this season when they have the lead in the eighth inning. Davis arguably has been the best reliever in baseball (0.80 ERA, 0.852 WHIP), and Holland (1.79 ERA, 40 saves) is close behind.
One Royals official recently told me about Davis and Holland, "It’s a strength, and you don’t improve your ballclub by weakening a strength."
NEXT HOT ROYAL: SAL?
Perhaps the most amazing part of the Royals’ 24-7 surge has been that no one offensively has been sizzling hot. We’ve discussed that before. Billy Butler has been very good during this stretch — not sizzling.
In fact, the Royals have endured some dreadful slumps in the last four weeks, such as the one recently with Omar Infante, and now presently with Sal Perez.
In his last 16 games, Perez has a slash line of .169/.194/.322.
Being the streaky hitter he is, though, Perez likely is due to get hot over the next five weeks, and that would be just in time, of course.
One obvious issue for a fan base that hasn’t witnessed a playoff game in 29 years is knowing how to react to the ups and downs of a playoff chase in September.
It should be interesting to see how Royals fans respond because there are bound to be some tough and agonizing losses ahead, along with some exhilarating victories. There will be a mountain of second-guessing of Ned Yost, too, I suspect.
Royals fans got a glimpse of a playoff chase last season, and a small taste of it back in 2003. This one should be different, and it already seems far more real. Therefore, it will be far more emotional for fans.
Remember, the point of this is to enjoy it.
HAT TIP TO THE TWINS
You have to hand it to the Minnesota Twins for showing some push-back against the Tigers over the four-game weekend series. The Twins won the first two games, gaining a split, and thus helped the Royals stay in first place.
The last-place Twins didn’t lay down, and that could be helpful because the Tigers and Twins play seven more times this season — including the last four in Detroit.