Another lost weekend

The Royals were swept away by the Cardinals. It's another stretch where absolutely nothing is going right for the club. Only Salvador Perez can save us.

I’m going to pull back the curtain on my process a little bit. Usually, the last thing I do before I bang the “publish” button on the newsletter is come up with the headline. Oftentimes, it’s absolute agony to come up with something punchy that makes sense. I’ve been known to sit at the laptop for a considerable length of time trying to come up with something that will pull you in and pique your interest in that day’s edition.

The headlines that write themselves (for me at least) are the ones where it just feels obvious. Take the case for the “Lost Weekend.” I used that as a headline back in May and it immediately jumped to the frontal lobe of my process around the time Nolan Arenado ripped one down the left field line and out of the yard. But having used it once, I couldn’t use it again. Hence the slight modifier. Another lost weekend for the Royals indeed.

The most famous lost weekend probably belongs to John Lennon who, while estranged from Yoko Ono in the mid-1970s, embarked on a spree noted both for its creativity and its hedonism. It lasted a year and a half.

While Dayton Moore’s lost weekend contains far less creativity and zero hedonism, his has carried on for far longer. We are closing in on the fourth year of the current lost weekend.

Bubic Bludgeoned

For three days in a row, the Royals were trucked by the cross-state Cardinals. They held the lead once all series: When Michael A. Taylor singled home Salvador Perez in the fourth inning on Saturday. They regurgitated it the following inning when Tommy Edman hit a two-run single.

Sunday’s contest was over from the moment Kris Bubic walked to the mound. Single. Single. Single. Or more like a meaty fastball, elevated fastball, hanging curve. If Bubic was waiting tables at the local Olive Garden this performance would have won a massive tip. He kept the salad bowl full and the breadsticks hot for the Cardinal lineup.

The broadcast later lamented that Bubic had been so close to working his way out of the first inning jam. After all, he had Lars Nootbaar on a full count before walking him. Had he just thrown a strike, he could’ve wiggled his way out of the inning. That of course is a bit of revisionist history the likes of which the crew at Ballys Sports Kansas City excels. It conveniently ignores the fact that Bubic was extremely hittable all afternoon. Had he thrown a strike to Nootbaar, it probably would have been driven for a hit. Be careful what you wish for.

Did I just write that Bubic was extremely hittable? Why yes I did. It’s the truth. This is a gif of all of Bubic’s pitches from Sunday and then the location of the pitches the Cardinals cashed in for hits.

Remember the Daniel Lynch start from last week? Well, at least the first two innings. That was a masterclass of working the edges of the plate. What Bubic did on Sunday was the opposite. Everything was on a tee. Major league hitters don’t miss when you put the ball on a tee.

Bubic was locating his four-seamer in the strike zone 65.5 percent of the time on Sunday. That’s the second-highest percentage he’s had in a game this season and just way too high. Especially for his stuff.

Here’s one of those fastballs…

Catcher Cam Gallagher set up on the inside part of the plate. Bubic delivered it right down the middle at 89 mph. Again…

The battery was flirting with danger going low against Nolan Arenado anyway. The margin of error was slim.

That was just one pitch in a poor location to a specific hitter, but it was emblematic of Bubic’s day. Sunday featured far too many hittable fastballs living far too frequently in the zone and a change that didn’t induce much chasing. It was a lethal combination that put the game out of reach within the first hour.

Your obligatory Salvador Perez Into the Fountains Moment

Since Carlos Santana has forgotten how to swing the stick with malice and Andrew Benintendi hasn’t recovered his swing from his IL stint and Whit Merrifield is slowly showing his age, there isn’t much good going on around this offense these days. Other than Salvador Perez.

On Sunday, he clubbed his 30th dinger of the year. And now that Jorge Soler is in a pennant race in Atlanta, Perez is the only guy capable of placing a baseball here:

Look at that splash! Glorious.

Over the last 30 days, the Royals’ best hitters are Soler (188 wRC+), as I mentioned now plying his trade in Georgia and the aforementioned Perez (145 wRC+). Honorable mention to Hunter Dozier (115 wRC+) and Edward Olivares (147 wRC+), doing his thing in Omaha. And that’s it. Those are the Royals who have performed better than average at the plate over the last 30 days.

This is a grim table for a Monday morning. Blame Fangraphs.

It’s a minor miracle they’ve been able to score 4.04 runs per game in the second half of the season. That’s just off the pace of their overall 4.08 R/G in 2021. Last year’s Royals squad plated 4.13 R/G.

Achy Adalberto

The Royals sent oft-injured shortstop Adalberto Mondesi to Triple-A earlier this month to begin a rehab assignment. He was generally playing every other day, ultimately appearing in five contests, last on August 10.

Then, the game logs stop. They just stop.

It turns out that Mondesi is experiencing some tightness in his oblique and was recalled from his assignment.

I know, I know…lather, rinse, repeat.

In this latest rehab assignment, Mondesi was struggling, going hitless in 13 plate appearances. He didn’t even work a walk and struck out four times. That’s a tidy .000/.000/.000. (I believe that’s the first time I’ve ever truly written that slash line.)

Speaking of lather, rinse, repeat…I am aware this is incredibly frustrating. The tendency is to just throw up your hands and shut him down for the year. What’s the point? Well, I’m thinking the point is, as long as there are games to be played and as long as the injury recovery time is measured in weeks rather than months (although with Mondesi that is probably wishful thinking), the player needs to be working himself back to full strength and to the team. Just give us something. The good news is (and I’m really stretching here) is that the minor league season stretches all the way to October this year, so there is plenty of opportunity for Mondesi to complete a full rehab assignment in Triple-A, pending the health of the oblique.

I am aware that Dayton Moore said the Royals can’t count on Mondesi going forward. But there’s a difference between not being able to count on a player and completely giving up on him. As long as he’s under contract, the Royals really can’t afford to totally give up on Mondesi. Although they certainly have to be getting close to that point. And you can hardly blame them.

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Central issues

  • Cleveland 11, Tigers 0

Cleveland jumped all over Drew Hutchinson and Ian Krol, putting all 11 runs on the scoreboard in the second and third innings. The bottom of the lineup got on base for Cleveland, the top drove them home. Ahmed Rosario and José Ramírez both drove in three. Number nine hitter Austin Hedges did both, scoring twice and driving home a pair.

Meanwhile, Triston McKenzie was dealing, flirting with a perfect game through 7.2 innings before a single from Harold Castro spoiled the fun.

Cleveland won 11 out of 18 against Detroit this year.

  • Yankees 5, White Sox 3

Good thing the Sox got that walkoff into the corn on Thursday night because once they shifted the series back to Chicago, they were husks of their former self. Rougned Odor opened the scoring with a second inning dinger and the Yankee bullpen almost imploded again, but held on for the series victory.

  • Rays 4, Twins 5

Bad news for the Royals; the Twins are kind of hot these days. By beating the Rays, they took the series 2-1, the third consecutive series they’ve won. They are 7-3 over that stretch. Josh Donaldson singled in a run in the first and doubled home two in the fourth. The Rays tied the game late on a Randy Arozarena single, but Jorge Polanco sent the fans home happy with a walkoff sac fly.

The Royals have now firmly taken up residence in last place in the Central. This most recent losing skid means they’re on pace for 94 losses.

Up next

It’s alumni week (or something like that) as two former Royals will face off against their old organization.

  • Monday — Jake Odorizzi vs Carlos Hernández at 7:10 CDT

  • Tuesday — Framber Valdez vs Daniel Lynch at 7:10 CDT

  • Wednesday — Zack Greinke vs Brady Singer at 7:10 CDT

  • Thursday — Luis Garcia vs Mike Minor at 1:10 CDT

This is the first time the Royals and Astros have played each other since September of 2019. That series was a three-game sweep for Houston at The K. Plus ça change…

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