Sour June shows Royals have long way to go on road back to winning
The month of June was not kind to the Kansas City Royals. In many ways, it was a downright cruel stretch of baseball that has lasted 30 days and resulted in just seven wins to 20 losses.
In addition to the starting pitching staff being completely unreliable, the bullpen is basically unpredictable due to manager Mike Matheny's inconsistent use of relievers. The offense is as disappointing as ever with Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier both boasting batting averages below the Mendoza Line – an expression used to define incompetent hitting. Both Soler and Dozier were slated to be cornerstones in this Royals offense with Whit Merrifield and Salvador Perez. The latter two are pulling their weight and then some while the former pair is dragging this club through the mud with sub .200 batting averages.
I haven't even gotten to the injured list, which is now nine-strong after reliever Richard Lovelady left Wednesday's loss to Boston after getting nailed by a line drive in his first appearance after being called up to replace Wade Davis – who is also on the list. Emmanuel Rivera's debut at third base was short-lived as he suffered a wrist injury in his second major league game Tuesday. Add offensive threats Andrew Benintendi (ribs), Adalberto Mondesi (oblique), and backup catcher Cam Gallagher to the list of June injuries and it's clear why this month has been so difficult.
It's hard to say how the Royals will handle the coming weeks ahead of the All-Star Break and trade deadline. Some of the members of the injured list might not return until after the break to ensure they have fully recovered. I expect this to be the case for Mondesi, given how this season has gone for him. With things going the way they are, the Royals shouldn't trot him out too soon and risk another calamity.
Even if the Royals get back to full strength, they won't be playing for much, other than attempting to avoid losing 100 games. The arrival of Bobby Witt Jr. can't come soon enough but nobody should be expecting the rookie to turn anything around. It really doesn't matter who the Royals bring up from the minor leagues because there are more problems with this club right now than the Omaha Storm Chasers can solve. Witt Jr.'s major league debut shouldn't be tied to the team's success because taking four at-bats a game and playing good defense doesn't win anything – just ask Mike Trout.
This season does not feel like it is building toward a championship in the next three years. Heck, I'd be surprised if they made the playoffs before the next presidential election. General Manager Dayton Moore has talked about replicating the roadmap that made the Royals champions in 2015 and that's fine but it sounds like the club thinks they are at the point they were in 2013. To me, this feels more like 2010, which means there are still a lot of pieces that need to come together for this team to start winning consistently.
Jason Brown is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org