Back in May, it looked like the Royals were just going to waste their 2017 season. That was no small thing, either, as Kansas City had a number of free agents who could leave following the year, important pieces like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Lorenzo Cain. The last two months have been a revelation, though, with the Royals making up for a terrible start and then some to launch into the middle of the postseason chase right before the trade deadline.
Kansas City has now won eight games in a row, and sits at 53-47 after a 22-30 start to the year. They're only 1.5 games back of the defending AL Central (and American League) champions, the Indians, and the Royals are also in possession of the second wild card, just half-a-game back of the Yankees for the first one.
In a field full of bubble teams that should be selling to help rebuild or adding to give all of this a better shot in 2018, the Royals have positioned themselves to go for it now. There are no guarantees with their record, and in the end, their poor start could prove to be too much of an anchor holding them fast. Right now, though, there are 10 teams in the AL sitting behind the Royals, and if they had played like they have the last two months all season, the number would be larger than that.
That's not to say Kansas City has a perfect roster. Their starting pitching is still abysmal (even with the excellent play the last two months, the rotation has posted a 4.73 ERA), with the lineup and bullpen doing all of the work for them. They don't have much in the way of assets to trade in order to improve in the future, given their farm system is a wreck and they need the good players they already have in the majors. If they can find a way to upgrade on Alcides Escobar at shortstop, though, and keep searching for starting pitchers who would benefit from playing in pitcher-friendly Kauffman, then they should come out of the deadline stronger than they went into it.
- Adrian Beltre was ejected from Wednesday's Rangers' game before he could attempt getting his fourth hit of the day, as he was asked to move to the on-deck circle. Beltre's reaction was to move the on-deck circle to him, and sense this umpire lacks a sense of humor, that was game over for Beltre.
- The Tigers are having trouble moving Justin Verlander thanks to his contract, which shouldn't be a surprise given he's owed $56 million after 2017 and has been about league-average this year.
- Speaking of expensive veterans tethered to their franchises, Albert Pujols' 2017 has ... not been good.
- If the Yankees can't get Sonny Gray, they could always go for these alternatives who are very much not Sonny Gray.
- The Giants did well with the Eduardo Nuñez trade.
- You don't think of dingers when you hear Kurt Suzuki's name, but 2017 is weird like that.
- The Orioles season is not going so well! What if they had kept the players they let walk and let the players they kept walk instead?
- The Braves sent the struggling Dansby Swanson back down to Triple-A.
- Not only is this an inside-the-park grand slam, but there is also a slide at home to end it.
- At 20 years and 275 days old, Red Sox rookie Rafael Devers is the youngest Boston player to hit a dinger since Tony Conigliaro back in 1965.
- The Astros have been doing just fine without him, but Dallas Keuchel will start for Houston on Friday after eight weeks on the DL.
- Grant Brisbee is not a fan of the Seth Lugo/Cubs rumor.