Kansas City Royals
In another example of how Major League Baseball's scheduling has gotten ridiculous since human input was replaced by random elements in a software program, the Mariners face the Kansas City Royals for the first time in two years here at the end of August; the M's are done with all six series against division rival Texas, but have yet to see the Royals? This is the world we live in.
With most of the season behind them, the Royals are 14 games under .500 and 15 behind the leader for any playoff berth. Facing their fifth consecutive sub-.500 campaign, the Royals have endured losing streaks of eleven and nine games already and have an abysmal road record of 24-39 as they arrive in Seattle. On the other hand, they're on the upswing—Kansas City is actually above the break-even mark since the All-Star break and have played respectable ball, and not because of a weak schedule of opponents. They've thumped contenders like the White Sox and Brewers as well as also-rans like the Tigers and Cubs. They've also been thumped by good teams and bad, but it remains a huge improvement from the first half.
Led by All-Star catcher Salvador Pérez and the would-be Mariner that wasn't, infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield, the Kansas City offense is solid if not that remarkable, landing in the middle of the pack in key measures like batting average, home runs, and on-base percentage. They play a contact-game, though, ranking last in the American League in walks and near the top in fewest strikeouts, though that means less these days than it once did since almost everyone seems to be a free-swinger in the 21st century. Pérez and Merrifield are joined by shortstop Nicky López, who leads the squad in OBP by a lot at .348, as lineup threats, and first baseman Carlos Santana is on the downside of his career but still packs some punch with 17 homers in the season.
On the mound, the Royals aren't exactly scary; their starting rotation is mostly young and inexperienced after they traded away Danny Duffy last month, and though their bullpen has a few decent arms in it, on the whole it's nothing to write home about. Closer Scott Barlow and former Mariner Domingo Tapia are the highlights of the relief corps, while on the flip side veterans Wade Davis and Ervin Santana hang on to throw low-leverage innings.
KC is slated to send Brad Keller, Kris Bubic, Carlos Hernández, and Daniel Lynch to the hill to start in this four-game set. Keller has faced the Mariners three times in his career, twice in 2018, when he did well, and once in ’19, when he was clobbered. Keller leads the AL in walks issued this year, so Seattle batters best be patient working the count against him. Left-hander Bubic was a rookie last year, so thanks to the short 2020 schedule he's never seen the M's before; over the course of the season Bubic has been either really good or really terrible, spinning quality starts against tough lineups some days and getting torched on others, including his worst start thus far two weeks ago against the Cardinals (7 ER, 11⁄3 IP). Fellow sophomore hurler Hernández was shifted from relief to starting in mid-season and this will be his eighth turn in the rotation. Aside from taking a beating from the Tigers in his second start, the Venezuelan righty has been impressive in his new role. Lynch is in his first Major League campaign after rising fast through the minors; after beginning the year with the Royals having never played above Class-A ball, the left-hander was sent to Triple-A after a few humbling relief outings and was recalled about a month ago. He's done very well since then, going 4-1 with a brilliant 2.27 ERA in six starts, including wins against the White Sox and Astros.
|vs. AL West||9-14|
Who’s Hot & Not
Last 10 games
.293/.341/.390, 4 2B, 4 RBI
.348/.340/.500, 4 XBH, 9 RBI
.342/.405/.447, 2 XBH, 4 RBI, 8 SB
.350/.341/.525, 5 XBH, 4 RBI
.219/.278/.313, 11 Ks
.206/.300/.559, 10 Ks
Last 3 series vs. Seattle
|6/19/19||SEA , KC 2|
|6/18/19||KC 9, SEA 0|
|6/17/19||KC 6, SEA 4|
|4/11/19||SEA 7, KC 6|
|4/10/19||SEA 6, KC 5|
|4/9/19||SEA 6, KC 3|
|4/8/19||SEA 13, KC 5|
|7/1/18||SEA 1, KC 0|
|6/30/18||SEA 6, KC 4|
|6/29/18||SEA 4, KC 1|
Mike Matheny: A longtime big-league catcher, Matheny was a standout defender on several postseason clubs until retiring out of health concerns after suffering a series of concussions behind the plate. He began his managerial career cold, having no previous professional managing or coaching experience, yet led his Cardinals to four consecutive playoff berths; the Cards fired him in the middle of the 2018 season despite his great success in St. Louis (overall .560 winning percentage) because of alleged personal conflicts in the clubhouse and altercations with the media. To his credit, Matheny owned up to his shortcomings in St. Louis and has tried to learn from his mistakes. "I came in completely over my skis," he said of his first managerial gig, "everybody knew that. I was unprepared and I was untrained." Now in his second year at the helm of the Royals, Matheny seems to have better relationships with his players than he did at the end of his Cardinals tenure and is a new convert to the more analytics-based school of managing.
Jarrod Dyson: Now in his second stint with Kansas City, the fleet-footed Dyson became sought-after with a career year in 2016 (.278/.340/.388) and was traded to the Mariners prior to the ’17 season (for pitcher Nate Karns). Though steady as always in the field, Dyson regressed some with the bat and hit just .251 in his lone year as a Mariner. He then signed a free-agent contract with the Diamondbacks and fell off the proverbial cliff, batting just .216 in two seasons in Arizona. Since leaving the Mariners, Dyson has posted an anemic line of .213/.289/.291 with an 18% K rate.
|Kansas City Royals||(1969 - present)|
|World Champions:||1985, 2015|
|League Champions:||1980, 2014|
|Division Titles:||1976, 1977, 1978, 1981 (split-season), 1984|
Carlos Santana: If you blinked you missed it, but for a brief ten days, Santana was a Mariner. He never suited up, though, as it was during the offseason; in December 2018, the switch-hitting first baseman came to the M's as part of the J.P. Crawford trade, only to be dealt away days later to Cleveland for Edwin Encarnación. Another player in the convoluted deal with Seattle, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay was current Mariner Jake Bauers, who went to Cleveland from the Rays in the trade.