With the Kansas City Royals coming to town, we wanted to find out more about the team and reached out to one of the most popular sites around–Kings of Kauffman for the answers. Paul Thompson is our favorite writer on the blog mainly because he can answer six questions in under six minutes, he’s straight up and really funny too. Enjoy.
Are you surprised at how the Royals are performing this season?
Coming into the season, I think most Royals fans expected the team to be better. The 12 game losing streak was a shock as well as a bitter disappointment for those of us expecting 2012 to be a turnaround campaign. Injuries are a reasonable excuse I suppose, as Felipe Paulino, Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, Joakim Soria, Danny Duffy, Greg Holland, and Jonathan Sanchez have all spent time on the disabled list. Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt have also been out for extended periods, although I’m hesitant to cite those injuries as major setbacks.
But Royals fan (and Pirates fans I’m sure) are sick of hearing excuses for the team’s failures. Fortunately, the team has played much better in the past month. They even managed to put together a winning May. So it’s been a mixed bag here.
What can you tell us about the starters for the Royals as they head into PNC Park?
Personally, I’m shocked that the team is playing as well as it has recently with a rotation that has prominently featured such legends as Vin Mazzaro, Luis Mendoza, Nate Adcock, Will Smith, and yes, the always enigmatic Luke Hochevar.
Hochevar will pitch tonight, so you’ll be able to see him first hand. He’s a boom or bust guy who has been driving Royals fans crazy all year. Hoch seems to have a fragile mind, so if things go wrong for him early he will likely self-destruct before the fifth inning. If he gets cruising though, he can still be a force. Pittsburgh’s offense may be just the healing elixir he needs to get back on track.
The aforementioned Mazzaro will start Saturday, and I doubt that many Royals fans are stoked about that notion. He has pitched well thus far, although there always seems to be a sense of impending doom when he takes the hill. Remember, this is a guy who has yet to wash the stink off of his epic 14 earned run meltdown last summer. He’s like the the United States housing bubble circa 2007. We’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Bruce Chen will start Sunday, and I think Royals fans feel comfortable when he takes the hill. For what seems like the 10th consecutive season, Chen has been the team’s most consistent starting pitcher. And while that may be more of an indictment on the state of our rotation than a compliment of Chen, it doesn’t change the fact that he provides the Royals with as good a chance to win as anybody.
Are you a fan of interleague play?
Sure. What’s not to like? The Royals have been one of the better teams inter-league teams in baseball since it’s inception. I think there is also an inherent interest in getting to see some of the National League’s top stars first-hand when they come to town. It’s really a win-win.
Kyle Zimmer, is he the real deal?
He certainly looks the part. I love the fact that he signed so fast, and his mid to high 90’s heat should play well at this level. He apparently has plus off-speed stuff to go with his plus fastball, so that’s exciting as well. Ultimately, we’ll have to see him work his way through the system before coming to a conclusion, but he appears at first glance to be a potential fast riser. The Royals seem to love his intangibles, especially his determination in pitching with that hamstring injury despite the knowledge that major league scouts were watching his every move.
It will be interesting to see, however, how he compares to Pittsburgh top pick Mark Appel.
The Royals picked up Adcock last year from the Pirates, what were your impressions of his performance and thoughts moving forward on if he can help the club?
Adcock is what he is at this point. He filled in capably as a Rule 5 guy last year, and even impressed at times. That being said, I doubt that many Royals fans (or the front office) have great expectations for him going forward. He’ll continue to be a AAAA type player, and will almost assuredly continue to get spot starts in Kansas City’s flimsy rotation.
He’s just a body at this point. That being said, he was worth every penny after having been picked up off of Pittsburgh’s scrap heap. Thanks for that! We’ll be sending along a thank you card shortly.
Prediction for the series?
Although the Royals have been one of the better teams in baseball on the road, the offense has sputtered recently. I’ll predict that Pittsburgh wins 2 out of 3, but will remain cautiously optimistic that the Royals can steal the series with a bit of luck. Unfortunately, no handicapper worth his salt could pick Hochevar or Mazzaro to win outright if he’s being honest with himself, but I wouldn’t be shocked if our electric bullpen can pull us out of some jams this weekend.