How will we know when they've hit rock bottom? This may be a question many Royals fans are asking these days as the team sits in the middle of yet another significant losing streak (five games) after being swept by the Texas Rangers, a team that looks bound for a top-five draft pick next season.
The Royals entered the week on a high note having defeated the AL East-leading Red Sox in a three-game series at home, but facing their hated rivals the New York Yankees proved more difficult. The Yankees took advantage of their own minuscule ballpark, hitting eight home runs off a Royals pitching staff that looks increasingly improvised.
Though the boys in blue saw the return of Danny Duffy this week, they also seem stuck in a pattern of short starter outings followed by bullpen games and a desperate scramble to find anyone to fill innings. This has created uncertainty about who will start games, who will relieve, and how long any of them will actually go.
The offense isn't picking up any of the slack either. As has been the case for weeks now, the Royals continued to struggle hitting with runners in scoring position. Collectively, they were 7-34 with runners in scoring position last week, which brings their season RISP to .232.
Opposing teams are finding it much easier getting their base runners across, and questions are starting to mount about the performance of the starting pitchers, in particular Brad Keller who had another difficult week, and the coach charged with helping them, Royals pitching coach Cal Eldred.
On the Farm
The most compelling story of the Royals' minor league season so far may be the performance of the Quad City River Bandits, and they added to that story this week with a few WILD games. On Thursday, the River Bandits dropped an extra-inning affair to the Beloit snappers five to six. They followed that up with a 14-12, back-and-forth, extra-inning shootout that was as crazy as its scoreline.
And yet, that wasn't the craziest game of the weekend for the River Bandits. On Sunday, they were down six-to-zero heading into the top of the ninth. They scored seven runs including an Eric Cole grand slam to take a one-run lead. Then, Beloit tied it in the bottom of the ninth. One more additional inning and the River Bandits eventually won it 10-7.
So, if you're struggling to watch the Royals right now, try a Quad City game. It probably won't be boring.