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The Good, Meh & Bad From the Royals' Series Against the Tigers

The Royals had a mixed bag of a series. Again.

The Kansas City Royals, once again, had a series cut short due to inclement weather and, once again, the series had some good results but mostly just more frustrations.

The Detroit Tigers took the first two games of the series, capturing the lead both times in the seventh inning. The Royals picked up the scraps on Saturday with a 3-1 win before Easter Sunday’s game was canceled. The Royals will ultimately get a chance to level the series on July 11th but for now, let's take a look at the good, the meh and the bad.

The Good

Apr 9, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brad Keller (56) pitches the ball against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nick Tre. Smith (FLO)-USA TODAY Sports

The top of the Royals' rotation has gotten out to a strong start, as both Zack Greinke and Brad Keller have done an admirable job. However, it would be nice if either of them could get a smidge of run support to help them (more on that later). Keller, after a rotten season last year, has started to look more at home and is utilizing the great defense behind him. The issue for the Royals when it comes to Keller: When do they sign him, and for how long?

Collin Snider also deserves a bit of recognition, as he came in Saturday and extinguished the flames brought on by Kris Bubic, ultimately resulting in him picking up his second win of the season. The Royals' bullpen — on paper — has the potential to be very special with experienced guys like Josh Staumont, Scott Barlow, and Amir Garrett mixed in with the younger arms of Snider and Dylan Coleman. 

Also, very quietly, Hunter Dozier has had a very good beginning to his season with an OPS north of .800. He also sits tied with Salvador Perez and Andrew Benintendi for the team lead in total bases with 13. With the way the rest of the order is hitting, it might be time for Dozier to get a chance a little further up the lineup. Being allowed to just focus on hitting has made him one of the most consistent bats in an otherwise inconsistent lineup.

The Meh

Jun 3, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Kris Bubic (50) pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Bubic bounced back adequately on Saturday after a short start to open the season, going 4-1/3 innings, allowing only one run and striking out four. However, this start was far from a quality one. He walked six batters on the day and nearly gave up a two-run shot in the second after throwing a meatball to Tigers catcher Dustin Garneau. 

Bubic’s pace on Saturday could also best be described as glacial, as he set a very deliberate tempo that did not seem to result in better control. At the end of the day, the result is what matters, but there is still much room for improvement when it comes to Bubic.

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Bobby Witt Jr. also recorded his first multi-hit game of the season as he again tries to find a way to tread water while he slowly inches his way closer to the Mendoza line. Witt is only going to get better if he gets more at-bats, so moving him down the order won’t help things. Since the Royals aren’t a bona fide playoff contender, this year's development should take precedent over anything else.

The Bad

Sep 18, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman Carlos Santana (41) hits a single against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

What happened to Kyle Isbel and Edward Olivares? Somehow, Carlos Santana has an everyday spot in the lineup and Ryan O’Hearn seems to still be Mike Matheny's go-to option off the bench. The Royals' outfield is already crowded enough and the fact that Matheny is letting two intriguing prospects rot on the bench should draw a fair bit of concern. Isbel was the Royals' fifth-ranked prospect last year and now he can’t even get in a game, so what exactly is the point of having him on the team?

Because the Royals failed to move Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi, Isbel or Olivares in the offseason, they've created a four-way logjam for playing time. With Santana being seemingly unmovable, Kansas City is left spinning its tires in place. 

The lineup as a whole is very underwhelming right now. Potentially it could be good, but the Royals have wasted the last four years on potential and have very little to no fruits to bear. At some point, it becomes less about potential and more about what is the here and now. 

Right now, the Royals have two pitchers (Greinke and Keller) pitching above their level and a staff full of inconsistent, young starters. They also possess arguably the worst offense in the American League through eight games. It might be blunt, but those are just the facts: The Royals own the lowest team OPS (.566) of any team in the junior circuit and have three starters with ERAs north of eight.

Series Grade: C-

Jun 26, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny (22) walks off the field during the second inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The offense is a mess, which is a shame because the pitching as a unit played well enough for the Royals to win all three games against Detroit last week. Then again, they are still only a series sweep against the Twins away from being back above .500. The Royals have played D-plus level baseball offensively and the concern is if or when they get it going, will the pitching be able to keep things moving in the right direction?

The potential is there with this team on both sides of the diamond but eventually, that potential has to show up if anything of note is going to be achieved during this season. Otherwise, the Royals are looking at another wasted season of the aforementioned tire-spinning.