The Royals held the 1st place of the AL central with a 16-9 record on May 1, since then they own a 56-76 record which puts them in 4th place in the division and 3rd worst record in the AL after that day.
No one expected the Royals to be a contender for a postseason spot in this 2021 season, let alone to be first in the division by May 1. Everyone had an eye on them until a 11 game losing-streak put them with a record under .500 and 6.5 games back of the White sox by May 13.
By May 1, the starting pitching(Duffy,Santana,Singer,Junis,Minor and Keller) of the Royals had an ERA of 3.93 a K/9 of 9.27 and a fWAR of 2.5 while relievers an ERA of 4.47 and fWAR of 0.3, pitching staff was clearly Royals strength on that span because offense was performing horribly.
The lineup of the Royals at this point had and OPS of .700 and a WRC+ of 89 and a fWAR 1.9 with Carlos Santana(136 WRC+) and Salvador Perez(125 WRC+) as their most productive hitters.
The success of this team was the strength of the schedule because they would eventually fall to earth. The teams that they faced; Texas, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago White Sox, Tampa, Toronto and Pittsburgh, were getting bad performances from their pitching staff. Three teams on this list were sitting bottom at the American league in ERA from their relievers(LAA,TEX,DET,MIN and CHW).
They lost 13-4 on May 1 against the Twins was the reality check for this team. Since then the starters have an ERA of 5.14, K/9 was lower, BB/9 was up, HR/9 was also up. With Singer being the worst of that list with a 5.31 ERA, relievers have been relatively average with a 4.20 ERA and the offense have been the same during the whole season with a 89 WRC+.
They need to invest in their pitching staff. Especially starters they went from using 6 starters at the beginning of the season to using 13 different starters by September 29th. Their current Payroll per baseball prospectus is 88$ millions, the 3rd lowest since 2018 when it was 122$ millions, about 33$ millions less.
Going to this off-season the Royals will try to acquire veteran presence to help a young team that it’s already giving an opportunity to their prospects. Starting pitching and a new third baseman will be plan this year, looking at the FA for this year. I can see them trying to get a second chance with Zack Greinke, take a flier with Alex Cobb and try to sign Kyle Seager all of them in short deals no more than 3 years.
Kansas City showed this season the faith that they have in their pitching prospects for the future with 2 new pitching prospects making their debut.
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