Royals Report – May 1

Royals Update – May 1st

Opening Day Starter – David Davies
May 1st projected Starter – David Davies

As I’ve already mentioned today, David Davies is on thin ice. The Royals are currently carrying 3 catchers (with LHB Steven Clevenger and defensive specialist Jackson Williams) and will reduce that to a pair when CF Billy Rounds returns to the team May 4th against Cleveland. Davies is batting just .190 and has been a mess defensively after starting 16 games. Clevenger has hit .417 in his 3 starts and Jackson Williams has hit .150 in his 6, but unlike Davies, he provides great defensive play. Unless Davies explodes at the plate over the next couple of days, he will be in Omaha with Clevenger and Williams holding down the C spot by the end of the weekend.

First Base
Opening Day Starter – Rocky Shoulders
May 1st projected Starter – Evan White

Shoulders was shipped to the Yankees April 26th for Evan White, but manager Jose Mota didn’t insert White into the lineup until his 3rd game with the Royals. Since then, he’s hit .500 with 5 RBI in 2 games. Shoulders still holds the team lead in HR at 4 as of the morning of May 1st. The move improves our infield defense and reduces our power output, but hopefully ends up being a plus in the end, as we prepare to move 3B Kody Clemens to 1B long-term.

Second Base
Opening Day Starter – Julio Soto
May 1st projected Starter – Julio Soto

Soto is doing as well as we hoped he would, hitting .303/.338/.439 through 17 starts at 2nd. The other 8 games we saw backup Juan Ruiz start, and he has performed as expected as well, hitting .277/.306/.340.

Third Base
Opening Day Starter – Kody Clemens
May 1st projected Starter – Santiago Mateo

Mota seems unsure of who to start at 3rd base. Clemens won the starting job with a nice spring, during which he hit .288 with 3 homers in 16 starts. In 20 starts this season, he’s hit .244 with 3 home runs and a team-leading 13 RBI. When his backup, Barry Crocker, was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox, the Royals signed 34-year-old veteran Santiago Mateo to a one-year deal. While Mateo was brought in to be a backup and provide solid defense, Mota has started him in 2 of the 4 games he’s played in since signing. Yesterday, Mateo went 3-for-3 with a 2B, a HR and 2 walks, while Clemens (who started at DH) went 0-for-5 with 4 K’s. Today, Mateo is penciled in as the starter with Clemens in every 3rd day. Clearly Mota is not on the same page as the KC scouts, who describe Clemens as “a middle of the order force who shouldn’t have a problem holding down a starting job” and Mateo as “a borderline candidate for replacement and upgrade”. With the acquisitions of prospects Brandon Gill last winter and Nander De Sedas last week, Clemens does not have a future at 3B with the Royals anyway, and as we mentioned earlier in this article, he will be moved to 1B next season. Whether he can beat out Evan White at 1B will be up to him… and Mota, I guess.

Opening Day Starter – Gus Lopez
May 1st projected Starter – Gus Lopez

Lopez is slightly down from last year but in the same ballpark. He’ll be our starter until we can no longer afford him.

Left Field
Opening Day Starter – Ryan Braun
May 1st projected Starter – Ryan Braun

The above is a bit deceptive. Braun has started 6 games in LF, 6 at 1B, and 9 at DH. After Braun started in LF on opening day, CF Billy Rounds was called up, which led to Bernie Blanchard moving from CF to LF and Braun moving to either 1B or DH, depending on Mota’s mood. Braun has hit .284/.364/.386 this season, so we are happy with his ability to get on base but would like to see him generate more power. He’s hit 6 doubles and 1 HR, while driving in 10 and scoring 14 runs, tops on the team.

Center Field
Opening Day Starter – Bernie Blanchard
May 1st projected Starter – Bernie Blanchard

Also a bit misleading, as this will clearly be Billy Rounds’s spot when he is activated. Blanchard is doing fine, but we’d like to see him get on base at a .400 clip. Right now he’s hitting .319/.379/.447, so he’s close. He’s much better defensively in his natural LF, but he’s held is own well in CF in 6 starts there this season. Billy Rounds was one of the AL’s best rookies when he suffered a head injury and was benched for 10 days for precautionary reasons. He was hitting .311/.354/.508 with 2 homers and 4 doubles when he went down. As mentioned earlier, he will return to the lineup when the Royals take on Cleveland at home May 4th.

Right Field
Opening Day Starter – Sergio Pagan
May 1st projected Starter – Kole Calhoun

Yes, look for Calhoun, who just signed today, to start in RF tonight at Minnesota. The veteran was brought in to bridge the gap between Sergio Pagan – who was just traded to Pittsburgh – and whichever outfield prospect is deemed ready first. There is some debate internally about whether that will be Alex Kirilloff or Jeremy Kinney, but whomever it is, there’s no pressure for it to be this season. Between Calhoun, current backup Julio Estever, and even possibly Ryan Braun when Rounds comes back, there will be some warm body to throw out there and perform.

Designated Hitter
Opening Day Starter – Joey Votto
May 1st projected Starter – Joey Votto

Votto has only actually started 7 games this year, but the aging veteran has performed well. He’s hit .304/.433/.391 with 6 walks compared to 8 strikeouts. In a few days, Votto’s playing time will probably be reduced again as Braun moves into the DH role more frequently, unless Mota decides to put Braun in RF over Calhoun.

The Royals are still rolling out a 6-man rotation consisting of:Felix Hernandez – 1-3, 8.02
Ron Tillman – 2-2, 5.57
Mel Garner – 0-3, 9.00
Jason Neal – 2-1, 4.97
Casey Mize – 0-2, 6.20
Chris Rivers – 2-0, 2.73Rivers is the only player who’d pitched well consistently. Is it possibly due to rust? Or just bad defense and general unluckiness? Whatever the case, it led to the firing of Jim Brower and the hiring of Arthur Rhodes. Since Rhodes came on board, the Royals have gone 4-2 with a team ERA of 3.42, lowering the team ranking of both Starters and Relievers from 15th in the AL (AKA last) to 13th.

BullpenThe bullpen has been largely unchanged for the first month of the season. Closer Luis Martinez has converted 5 of 6 save opportunities despite an ERA of 9.00, while Wily Peralta has posted an even-worse 9.53 ERA. But only 3 losses have been credited to the bullpen against 4 wins, so they’ve not really cost us too many games. Of course, one could argue that they’ve also not kept us in games when we were losing by a run or two. But at this point, we’re letting them grow. Hopefully they continue to improve under Rhodes.

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