The hits keep on coming, but it’s not Eric Hosmer hitting into better luck. With left-handed starter Danny Duffy being out for the year due to a ligament tear in his elbow, the Royals suffered another injury to a key player. The Royals already lost closer Joakim Soria for the year to Tommy John surgery. Catcher Salvador Perez won’t be back until the All-Star Break recovering from a knee injury. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain is still recovering from a groin injury he suffered early in the season. Not to mention starter Jonathan Sanchez is on the DL with biceps tendinitis. These players were supposed to be a key part of the 2012 season and help make the Royals competitive. Instead, other players are filling the void.
With the loss of Danny Duffy for the year and Jonathan Sanchez out for a few weeks, pitchers Luis Mendoza and Vin Mazzaro are in the rotation. Mendoza and Mazzaro don’t inspire much confidence from Royals fans. But last Sunday, Mendoza pitched well, filling in for injured Duffy. And Tuesday night Mazzaro was unMazzaro like and pitched well enough against the Texas Rangers to win the game.
Mendoza and Mazzaro know they have a great opportunity to prove they belong with the Royals. But they need to pitch deep into games and keep the runs down if they have any chance to stay in the rotation.
Sometimes closer Jonathan Broxton makes the ninth inning more interesting than it needs to be. But in 15 games, Broxton has eight saves and until last night’s game with Baltimore, he’s held the opposing team scoreless with a 1.32 ERA. Many fans were surprised the Royals got Broxton in the off-season, but with the loss of Soria, it looks like a smart move.
Of course the Royals would prefer to have Salvador Perez behind the plate, but Humberto Quintero and Brayan Pena are holding their own. Interesting stats: before Wednesday’s game with the Baltimore Orioles, Quintero and Pena had the same amount of hits (15), doubles (6), RBI (7) and batting average (.238). Which mean they’re about the same player performance wise and one of them will be the backup catcher when Perez returns.
With Lorenzo Cain out since early April, Jarrod Dyson was plugged in to fill the void. After a forgettable two-game stint which sent him back to Omaha, Dyson was recalled a couple of weeks later and has done well in 18 games with a .304/.383/.362 average with 17 runs, 24 hits and nine walks. However, despite his speed, Dyson only has four stolen bases and was caught stealing twice.
If Dyson continues to play well, he presents the Royals with a dilemma when Cain returns. Do the Royals keep Dyson as the starting center fielder and put Cain on the bench or does Dyson go to the bench or Omaha and Cain becomes the starting center fielder? As long as Dyson plays well and the team is winning, the Royals will cross that bridge when they get there.
Despite all the injuries, the Royals are playing better baseball. And this is with Hosmer still struggling at the plate and Alex Gordon striking out more often and getting less hits and runs. On the positive side, Chris Getz and Alcides Escobar are playing well in the infield. The bullpen is pitching better and starters Bruce Chen and Paulino are pitching well.
It’s hard to forget the 12 game losing streak earlier this season, but fans have to be encouraged by the way the Royals are playing lately, despite all the injuries. Perhaps the team is playing up to their potential. Now the Royals need Eric Hosmer to be Eric Hosmer again.