Now that Zack Greinke had a start in which he looked vaguely human, the sky has completely fallen in on the Royals.
Ray W. at RoRetc is calling for heads (or rather, head) to roll. As Sam Mellinger at the Kansas City Star points out, the bullpen has allowed 33 earned runs in their last 30 2/3 innings for an ERA of 9.63.
Mere weeks ago, the Royals sat atop the division at 18-11.
Now their record is 23-27.
Over that 5-16 stretch, Kansas City's offense has been putrid, their defense abominable, and the bullpen indefensible. Even their starting pitching has scuffled for the most part.
Who are the Royals then? Are they the team that dazzled (in Royals terms at the very least) at 18-11? This awful product on the field can't be the truth, can it?
Both identities probably hold true.
I don't think this will be the only rough stretch this season, but another stretch of 18-11-ish ball is probably in the cards, too.
Health has certainly been an issue, with the bullpen hit more than maybe any other aspect of the team. Injuries to two of the Royals most effective relievers (Robinson Tejeda's walks be damned) have left them relying on the likes of Sidney Ponson and Horacio Ramirez far too often.
Ramirez, who Royals fans hope gets the pink slip with every roster move, may grant everyone that collective wish this week when Joakim Soria is reactivated and Coco Crisp is taken off the bereavement list.
The return of Soria, expected Tuesday, should move Cruz, Wright, and company into more comfortable territory. The current dregs of the bullpen would move into blowout only roles.
Injuries haven't just afflicted the team on the positional depth chart either. While Crisp and Mike Aviles have seen their performance suffer on the field as a result of their injuries, it is Gil Meche's struggles that have been most worrisome. His last start was very encouraging, but one cannot help but wonder whether Meche might have been best served doing a 15-day stint on the DL in the hopes of righting his ailing back.
One word, Gil: Yoga.
Regardless of all this, the Royals made a decent run at things for a month or so. Maybe they can keep themselves close enough to strike with a healthy Alex Gordon, but that is probably a long shot at this point. We as fans got a couple of months of meaningful baseball this time at least.
Now I guess we look forward to Disco ascending the ranks and hopefully pitching where he needs to—Kansas City.