All-star voting is in full swing and at this point, it looks like a few Royals players are putting together, some would argue, all-star caliber baseball during the first two and a half months of this season. Two of them should be especially noted with their defensive play in the outfield (Jeff Francoeur and Alex Gordon) as well as solid production at the plate. Billy Butler has been producing another solid .300 season so far.
Despite solid individual performances at key positions in the lineup the Royals have struggled the past couple of weeks, largely due to three starting pitchers still out of the rotation and lack of putting together solid offense innings and giving run support that the Royals young pitching staff desperately need. It has been rough especially in the last ten games, where the Royals have scored three runs or less in seven of them.
This offensive struggle, despite bringing up the hot hitting Hosmer last month, led to Ned Yost to bring up another high quality-hitting prospect, Mike Moustakas. Moustakas made his debut on Friday night in front of his hometown against the Angels and did a solid job going one for three with a run scored, and a walk. In order to make room on the roster for the young slugger, the Royals sent down Mike Aviles, who has struggled nearly all season.
The past few days, the Royals have seen Luke Hochevar and Joakim Soria return to their winning selves by pitching well against Toronto. Soria managed to convert back to back save opportunities this week after resuming his closer role, which is good news for the Royals and bad news for the Royals opponents who are down going into the ninth, because when he is on he is one of the best closers in baseball.
The injuries that had been piling up on the Royals pitching staff in recent weeks has lessened and two of the starters (Chen and Davies) made solid progress on their most recent rehab stints. Jason Kendall made some huge strides as well this week by taking part in batting practice beginning this past Monday. I would expect him to be back by the end of this month at the latest based on how he has progressed on his rehab.
The Royals have had a big influx of high-level prospect talent come through the clubhouse in the past six weeks and every rookie has an adjustment period. Despite having so many rookies on the roster and having several injuries in key positions (pitcher and catcher) the Royals are doing better than some other teams with similar injury related issues. With Chen and Davies coming back by the end of the month along with Kendall, the Royals could make a solid push right before the all-star break and heat things up in the American League Central. It is not going to be easy with the next eight games on the road, which includes a stop in St. Louis, but it is doable.