Tag Archive | "Greg Holland"

Moustakas and Hosmer giving hope to Kansas City Royals’ nation

Mike Moustakas blasted a walk-off homer in the 13th inning to give the Kansas City Royals a 7-6 win over the Mariners on Thursday. In the same game, Eric Hosmer had two hits, bringing his season average up to .300. The standout performance by the duo was more of the same in a post All-Star break campaign that has been marked by a vast improvement for the sluggers.

MooseAndHos

While a playoff spot this season is improbable for the Royals, a strong second half by Moustakas and Hosmer should have Royals fans feeling good about the future.

The start of the season was rough for the two young cornerstones for Kansas City. In 80 games before the All-Star break, Moustakas floundered to a slash line of .215/.271/.327, with six home runs and an embarrassing 17 RBI.

In just 36 second half games, the talented third-baseman is hitting .287/.333/.465 and the power has come around to the tune of five home runs and 19 RBI.

Hosmer didn’t even hit a home run until May 9 and in 344 first half at-bats only notched nine long-balls.

In just 193 at-bats after the All-Star break, Hosmer has six home runs and 30 RBI. His slash line is extremely impressive at .326/.391/.477.

These corner infielders should be fixtures in the Kansas City lineup for years to come. It was widely assumed that this would be a breakout year for the duo, but the slow start had Royals’ fans concerned about where these two would lead the team in the future. After trading Wil Myers to Tampa Bay, the Royals’ offense is counting on Moustakas and Hosmer to deliver in a big way.

The strong second half by Moustakas and Hosmer has been mirrored by the team as a whole. In the first half, the Royals were 24th in the MLB in runs and 14th in batting average. In the second half, the team is up to 6th in the majors in scoring and in batting average.

The Kansas City offense is often viewed as a weak point of the team. The rotation, led by James Shields and Ervin Santana, has been great the whole year. Greg Holland has been lights out as the closer and the bullpen as a whole has been dominant.

If Moustakas and Hosmer can lead a turnaround of the offense, the Royals should finish this year strong and have a lot to look forward to next season.

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The Royals are in the A.L. playoff hunt

Things are going well for the Kansas City Royals. In the last 10 games, they’re 8-2 and have a 58-53 record. Mike Moustakas is finally hitting. Closer Greg Holland won Major League Baseball’s Delivery Man of the Month for July. The Royals team ERA is 3.57, tied for first in the American League. The team is playing well lately and for the first time in a long time, the Royals are in the playoff hunt after being left for dead before the All-Star Break.

Royals Walk Off Win

But the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers are playing well and winning too. When the Royals win, they win. If the Royals lose, the Indians lose (and lately the Tigers keep winning) and the Royals don’t gain on the Tigers and Indians.

As of Wednesday night, the Royals are fifth in the Wild Card race, five games back. Of the four teams ahead of them (Tampa Bay, Texas, Baltimore and Cleveland), the Royals only face the Indians for six games and Texas for three games. And the four teams ahead of them in the Wild Card are within 1.5 games of each other.

And if that’s not enough, in the next 11 days the Royals will play four games against the A.L. East leading Boston Red Sox and five games against the Tigers. In between those series, the Royals play the Miami Marlins, so there’s a chance to win more games if they don’t take the Marlins for granted.

The Royals haven’t played an above .500 team since July 25. Since then, the Royals are 10-2, which is good, but winning against below .500 teams should be expected. To be fair, the two teams above .500 the Royals played since the All-Star Break were the Tigers and Baltimore Orioles, and the Royals went 5-2 against them. Since the All-Star Break, the Royals are the only team in the Major League that have won all their series.

The next 11 days will determine if the Royals are for real. If they hold their own with the Red Sox and Tigers (and gain on the Tigers in the standings), the Royals won’t play an above .500 team until they play the Tigers again on September 6. In fact, the Royals play the Tigers and Indians 17 more times, 11 of which are against the Tigers. It’s simple: if the Royals keep winning series, they have a chance to make the playoffs.

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Should there be a third Royals All-Star?

For the first time in a decade, the Royals have more than one player named to the All-Star team. Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez are the first duo to earn the honors since Mike MacDougal and Mike Sweeney in 2003.

GregHolland2

While Kansas City fans will enjoy watching Gordon and Perez in the Midsummer Classic, the Royals very easily could have had three All-Stars and some might argue they should. The third potential All-Star is closer Greg Holland, who has been lights out in the ninth inning pretty much all season.

Holland’s stats this year have been impressive.  He is 22 of 24 in save opportunities. He sports a whopping 15.4 K/9 with 60 strikeouts in 35.0 innings, good for a tie for first in strikeouts among American League closers. His 22 saves place him fifth in the league. He has converted his past 15 save opportunities and hasn’t blown a save since May 6. And right now, Holland is red hot. In an outstanding start to July, Holland has yet to give up a run in five chances. He has given up two hits over that time, while striking out 10 in five innings.

So, now that we’ve analyzed Holland’s numbers, the question becomes who does he replace on the team. The relievers selected to the American League squad are Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins, Jesse Crain and Brett Cecil.

Holland has a better ERA and WHIP than Rivera. Crain and Cecil are middle relievers who are having excellent seasons. Nathan is having arguably the best season among all American League closers and with the game in New York, Rivera is deserving of his spot in his final season. That leaves Perkins.

Perkins has had a very good year and AL manager Jim Leyland took notice, especially after Perkins has notched four saves this year against Leyland’s Tigers. But if you compare Holland with Perkins, it seems the Royals hurler may have been the better pick. Holland has a better ERA, more strikeouts and more saves. Both have blown only two save opportunities and Perkins has a slightly better WHIP. It may be splitting hairs, because Perkins has had a great year and it’s not always exclusively about the numbers (Leyland has seen Perkins more than Holland this year).

However, Holland has an excellent case for being the third member of the Royals in New York City next week.

Holland isn’t dwelling on his omission from the roster.

“It just didn’t happen,” Holland told the Kansas City Star. “There were a lot of guys who didn’t make it who were deserving too. So you’ve just got to move on. I thought I was deserving of consideration, and I imagine I got some. It’s tough to pick a team. That’s part of it.”

He still could be selected to the team should Leyland need to make an injury replacement. But, if not, Holland will enjoy the days off and hope he can continue his torrid July pace.

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Kansas City Royals: Still a ways to go

After May, it looked like another typical Royals season. But approaching the All-Star break, the Royals are around .500 and within striking distance of the A.L. Central. It’s a position the Royals haven’t been in since 2003, when they had marquee names like Darrel May, Ken Harvey and Desi Relaford (those were the days). The team is playing better baseball, but they’re not playing good enough baseball.

DaytonMoore

Things are getting better. Eric Hosmer is playing like he should. Jeff Francoeur is gone and signed with the San Francisco Giants. Fan favorite Johnny Giavotella has the chance to be the everyday second baseman. Greg Holland is one of the best closers in baseball. The outfield is solid with All-Star Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, David Lough and Jarrod Dyson. All-Star catcher Salvador Perez is the cornerstone of the team and he’s only 23 years old. The offense is waking up. Yes, the Royals are the best they’ve been in years.

But there’s still a ways to go. Besides James Shields and Ervin Santana, the starting rotation is hit-or-miss. One start, Jeremy Guthrie is great, another start he’s lousy. Wade Davis is failing as a starter and Luis Mendoza is back in the bullpen, with Bruce Chen taking his place. The bullpen doesn’t have a go-to guy for the eight inning. Inconsistent reliever Kelvin Herrera spends too much time on I-29 shuffling between Kansas City and Omaha. Giavotella is the everyday second baseman, but after seven games he’s at .208/.269/.292. Mike Moustakas isn’t where he needs to be and Billy Butler is at .270/.374/.407, which is almost pedestrian for the Royals designated hitter.

So far, the Royals can’t get to .500. They had a chance against the Yankees Wednesday night, but lost 8-1, and now are two games under .500.

The trade deadline is at the end of the month and the team has to decide if they want to make a trade for a run for the A.L. Central or stay where they are and hope things get better. So far, there’s no real trade rumors, big or small. It depends how the Royals play the next couple of weeks.

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Duffy begins rehab ahead of Naturals Homestand

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SPRINGDALE, Ark. – The Naturals’ parent club, the Kansas City Royals announced  that starting pitcher Danny Duffy will begin his Major League rehab assignment with the Naturals on Sunday against the San Antonio Missions.

Duffy is expected to be with the Naturals for their upcoming homestand that begins on Tuesday May 28th.

Last season the hard-throwing lefthander made the Royals starting rotation out of Spring Training and made six starts, going 2-2 with a 3.90 ERA, striking out 28 batters in 27⅔ innings, before being placed in the Disabled List on May 14 with a left elbow injury and undergoing Tommy John surgery on June 13.

A major contributor on the Naturals Texas League Championship team, Duffy made two post-season starts and earned the win in the opening game of the Texas League Championship Series against the Midland RockHounds. Duffy went 5-2 with a 2.95 ERA in seven regular season starts with the Naturals in 2010.

Duffy is the second former Natural to return to the team on a rehab assignment, joining Greg Holland who returned to Northwest Arkansas for two games in 2012.

The Southern California-native will wear number 41 for the Naturals. The Naturals roster is at the Texas League limit of 25 players, plus Duffy who is on a Major League rehab assignment.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and proud host of the 77th Annual Texas League All Star Game. The Naturals play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, AR. For more information including statistics, ticket options, and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.

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The month of May could decide the Kansas City Royals 2013 season

After a good April and keeping up with A.L. Central leading Detroit Tigers, the Kansas City Royals are 3-3 so far this May. But for the rest of the month, they have a tough schedule. They have a game against the Baltimore Orioles, then they play the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros, the Angels again, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Texas Rangers. Except for the lowly Astros and struggling Angels, the other teams are above .500 and possible playoff contenders.

May 2013

Despite this month’s 3-3 record, there’s reasons for concern. So far this month, the Royals have six errors, with four of them committed in their two losses against the Orioles. The usually strong Royals bullpen lost a 2-1 decision to the White Sox Monday night and Luke Hochevar‘s errant pickoff throw to first in Tuesday night’s game against the Orioles led to a 4-3 loss. And in four of the six games played this month, the Royals offense scored three or less runs.

But it’s not all bad. It took until May 8 and 30 games into the season for the Royals to lose three games in a row. Last year, they lost three games in a row by April 14, eight games into the 2012 season. The starting rotation is pitching well, especially Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana. Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar are playing well. If Tim Collins, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland cut down their walks and settle into their roles, the defense quits making errors and the offense scores more runs, the Royals could get through May with a .500 or above record. Or they could implode and have losing record. Either way, we’ll know by June 1.

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Kansas City Royals – Contenders Or Pretenders?

As a baseball fan watching Kansas City suffer for years, I have to wonder if they are actually a good contender this season for the playoffs, or if this is just their 15 minutes of fame.

Kauffman Cover Photo

There is certainly something for Royals’ fans to get excited about right now. At this point in the year, Kansas City is 17-10, when last season at this time they were only 10-20. A dramatic difference. Pitching, in particular, seems to be carrying most of the team, but their offense is not far behind.

Royal Pitching

Veterans like Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie are having stellar seasons. They have combined for 7 Wins to date, both with having an ERA under 2.50 and WHIP just above 1.00. According to ESPN, while Santana is owned in 97% of fantasy leagues, Guthrie is only owned in 50%. Guthrie brings a commendable work ethic to the team and I think would be a valuable pick-up if he is still available in your league. The right-hander excels at mixing all of his pitches to keep hitters off balance, and he recently threw his first major league shut-out.

The Royals’ starting rotation has been rounded out with the new additions of Wade Davis and James Shields. While Davis is has been struggling since joining Kansas City with a 4.75 ERA, he hopefully can get back down to that 2.43 ERA he finished with in 2012. And Shields may soon become the ace of the team, filling the void that Zack Greinke left. Both Davis and Shields are 2-2 this season.

The Royals’ bullpen has been strengthened with former-starting-pitchers-now-relievers, Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar. Chen has not allowed an earned run yet this year in 5 appearances, and Hochevar has only given up 1 earned run in 7 appearances. Greg Holland is settling in nicely as a solid anchor for the bullpen. He has 7 saves so far this year and only 1 blown.

Royal Batting

Kansas City’s pitching has started off hot, but the fans are still waiting to see the promise the line-up showed during Spring Training this year. There are only three batters with an average above .300 right now, Jarrod Dyson is one of them and he only has 20 plate appearances so far.

The power is not quite there yet from their top hitters. It somehow got lost in the transition between Spring Training and the regular season. If this team can get their bats going and keep the pitching consistent, they can be a force for the entire summer.

Fantasy owners might want to watch players like Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, and Mike Moustakas. They have all been showing signs of improving in their last 15 games, and might just break out of their slumps soon. Moustakas is only 39% owned in fantasy leagues which is obviously due to his struggle at the plate. If he can start making solid contact again, he will prove he deserves a position on your fantasy roster.

Even though the Kansas City line-up is not producing the way they are capable of, they can still be tough to beat in the American League Central. But if history is any indication, this poor team does not have a chance. If someone were to walk into the baseball world right now and not know anything about the Royals’ past, they would never know that they are usually toward the bottom of the AL Central division.

First place Detroit Tigers better take notice that Kansas City is only a half game back. Can they keep this up? Is this just a flash in the pan? If the starting pitching can continue eating up innings, their bullpen will be able to stay fresh for the long season. And if their bats start producing, then I would say that the Royals can shed the pretender branding and will be a contender in 2013.

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Greg Holland and Wade Davis struggle early this season

What a difference a week makes. After starting 0-2, the Royals won their third game against the Chicago White Sox. Next, they took two of three from the Phillies and swept the Twins in three games. Now the Royals are 6-3 and first place in the A.L. Central. The offense is scoring runs, the defense only has one error and the starting rotation is pitching well, despite giving up a combined nine home runs.

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But the anchor of the bullpen, Greg Holland, isn’t pitching well. In four games over three innings, Holland faced 20 batters and threw 82 pitches, 43 of them strikes. He gave up five hits, four runs, six walks and five strikeouts. Last Saturday, he blew a save against the Phillies by walking three and giving up a walk-off double. Last Tuesday night against the Twins, Holland threw 27 pitches and faced six batters in the rain before getting his second save.

Royals manager Ned Yost hasn’t gave up on Holland and it’s not time to panic yet, despite Holland’s trouble finding the strike zone. Early last year, an injured rib cage affected his performance. After Holland recovered, he posted a 2.08 ERA and became the Royals closer after the Royals shipped Jonathan Broxton to the Reds. If Holland continues to struggle, Yost has a good backup closer in Kelvin Herrera, who’s fared well this season.

Wade Davis isn’t struggling like Holland, but his first two starts haven’t been stellar. In last Friday’s game against Philadelphia, Davis only pitched four innings, throwing 76 pitches, facing 19 batters and giving up nine hits, and four runs, two of those home runs. He also struck out two and didn’t walk anybody. The Royals ended up winning the game 13-4, so his performance didn’t hurt the team. For his second start, Davis pitched five innings, throwing 96 pitches, giving up four hits and three walks. But he struck out six and held the Twins scoreless, getting the win.

Davis needs to adjust to the starting rotation after pitching out of the bullpen with the Tampa Bay Rays last year. His next couple of starts will show if Davis becomes an effective starter or is better suited as a reliever.

After the 0-2 start, it’s good to see the Royals playing well and leading the A.L. Central. And Holland and Davis’ issues are minor. But the Royals have tough upcoming series against the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves, followed by the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers. It’s not getting easier for the Royals and the team’s success may depend on the performance of Holland and Davis.

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The Royals Send Luke Hochevar To The Bullpen

It’s been a bumpy and inconsistent ride for Luke Hochevar, the former 2006 No. 1 overall draft pick. Except for a few bullpen outings early in his career, Hochevar was a starter for the Royals since 2008. With the team’s upgrades to the starting rotation, Hochevar, Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza were in competition for the fifth starting spot. But after two spring starts, the Royals made the decision to move Hochevar to the bullpen.

Luke  Hochevar

It wasn’t like Hochevar made a case for being the fifth starter. In two spring starts, Hochevar pitched eight innings and gave up six earned runs, six walks, two home runs and eight strikeouts with a 6.75 ERA. It’s only two starts, but it’s clear Hochevar’s spring struggles influenced the Royals to move him to the bullpen.

Royals Manager Ned Yost put a positive spin on the move, saying it gives Hochevar a chance to help the Royals win every day instead of every five days. But the last few years, Hochevar hasn’t given the Royals many chances to win every five days as a starter.

The Royals see Hochevar as a late-inning setup man, joining Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow for closer Greg Holland. The team believes having Hochevar pitch one or two innings and getting acclimated to the bullpen during Spring Training will improve his consistency on the mound.

But will moving Hochevar to the bullpen make a difference? The frustrating thing about Hochevar’s meltdowns was they didn’t always happen after pitching a few innings. One start, he might melt down in the first inning. Another start, he might fall apart after three or four innings. Or in another start, he might pitch seven or eight masterful innings, getting the win. When Hochevar took the mound, you didn’t know which Hochevar would show up.

Hochevar has some advantages. He’s durable, and when he’s on, he’s almost unhittable. And having Hochevar face fewer batters and being “on call” to pitch every day might sharpen his mental focus and improve his consistency.

The team made the logical decision and moved Hochevar to the bullpen. The Royals weren’t going to release Hochevar and it’s unlikely he would go to AAA Omaha. And he doesn’t have much trade value, at least for now. The team has nothing to lose by doing this and it could be a move that resurrects his career. Or it could be Hochevar’s last gasp in a so far inconsistent, disappointing Major League career. For the good of the team and Hochevar, I hope this works out.

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Is Donnie Joseph for real, or a spring mirage?

You can’t take too much stock in Spring Training performances. For instance, there’s left-handed reliever Donnie Joseph. In two one-inning relief appearances, Joseph faced and struck out six batters, which is impressive. Of course the batters he faced were AAA level players and five of them were left-handed. But if a pitcher is going to make a good impression in Spring Training, Joseph is doing a good job of it.

John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star

Last July, the Royals got Joseph when they sent veteran reliever Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati. In four Minor League seasons, Joseph pitched in 193 games over 225.1 innings with a 3.55 ERA and a 3.01 SO/BB ratio, all in relief.

Joseph struggled when he went to AAA Omaha. In 11 games over 17.1 innings, his ERA was 4.15. He struck out 19 batters and gave up 13 walks, ending up with a 1.46 SO/BB ratio.

Despite the two good outings striking out the side, Joseph is a long shot to make the team. His command of the strike zone is inconsistent, and he’s only pitched 29 games in AAA. And there’s the current makeup of the bullpen. The Royals plan to carry seven relievers and for now Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow are locks. And who doesn’t get the fifth starter job between Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza will join the bullpen as long relievers. That leaves one spot and 14 pitchers are vying for that spot, including Joseph.

As a lefty, Joseph could be the left-handed specialist if he makes the team. He’s on the on 40-man roster and has options remaining, so even with a great spring, Joseph might end up in Omaha, especially with the strength of the Royals bullpen. If he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, it wouldn’t hurt Joseph to get more experience facing AAA batters and improving his command. Even if he starts the season in Omaha, it’s likely he’ll be with the Royals sometime this year.

Donnie Joseph isn’t for real yet, but he’s not a mirage either.

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