This was never a game thanks to a rough first inning by Brady Singer.
BIG PICTURE: The 7-2 loss to Tampa Bay drops the Royals to 23-25. The Royals fell five games back of the division-leading Chicago White a Sox pending their evening game against the Baltimore Orioles.
NOTES: RHP Jonathan Bowlan, a top ten Royals prospect, will have Tommy John surgery. Bowlan left his start on Sunday after just ten pitches. He had a 1.79 ERA in 17 innings at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
WHIT’S STRUGGLES… We are not seeing the Whit Merrifield this year that we are used to seeing. There is a long way to go, but just watching him in Tampa Bay this week, you can see how much he is struggling. I can’t remember seeing Whit strike out on three pitches without ever swinging, but we saw that on Tuesday. He looks overmatched right now, and that’s saying something. Whit is a terrific hitter. Even the best hitters struggle at times.
SINGER IS STUNG… Brady Singer struggled from the beginning in this game. Singer hit a batter, walked one after being ahead in the count 1-2, and then gave up a triple. A fielder’s choice then knocked in the final run in the inning and the Royals trailed 3-0 after one.
Austin Meadows caused a lot of the damage. He tripled in the first inning, knocking in two runs. He then homered in the third, scoring another two runs.
Singer didn’t have his good stuff and isn’t able to have success yet in that situation. The home run by Meadows was on a slider that stayed straight and stayed over the middle of the plate, and Meadows crushed it.
Singer ended up allowing six runs in 2 2/3 innings. Singer threw 70 pitches in his short outing.
It’s still a development year for Singer. It’s just his second season and last year, even though it counts as a full year of service, was a very short year of development.
STATE OF THE OUTFIELD… Watching Jorge Soler play right field recently because of Salvador Perez’s groin injury made me think about the state of the outfield as a whole.
Let’s start with the good. Andrew Benintendi is about the best thing going offensively for the Royals. After struggling in April in his first month with the club, Benintendi has been on fire in May. In May he is hitting .341 with an .839 OPS when I am writing this.
Benintendi is playing good defense as well. He’s not quite Alex Gordon in the outfield, but he has been solid.
Michael Taylor is holding down center field, and he hasn’t been anything spectacular. He started incredibly hot this season. The impression a lot of people have is that he’s doing great because of that. But he’s not. He’s hitting just .246. His on-base percentage is just .293. And although his defense has been good, there have been several plays that he hasn’t made, which a Royals center fielder needs to make. For example, he jumped too soon for a ball in the gap Thursday night in Tampa Bay. I mean. He was there. He just mistimed his jump. Michael Taylor is on a one-year, $1.75 million contract. He’s cheap, but he is not the long-term answer. The farm system has to come through.
Right field was Kyle Isbel’s job coming out of Spring Training, but that didn’t work out. So it’s been a bunch of guys filling since Isbel was sent down. Recently, with Salvador Perez’s injury, it’s been Jorge Soler there, so let’s talk Soler.
Jorge Soler has been terrible in every aspect of the game. He’s hitting .171 with a .564 OPS. Just throw him a breaking ball and watch him lunge after it as he comes nowhere near hitting it.
And on defense? Oh my goodness. It gets worse. Did you see him play right field Thursday? Soler caught the fly ball flat-footed with a runner at third base and made a terrible throw home that had to be cut off.
It would take a miracle turnaround this year to even start considering making a qualifying offer to Soler.
At this point, the only other outfielder you could turn to is Jarrod Dyson. Dyson is a fan favorite from his time on the World Series teams of late, but you don’t want Dyson playing every day at this point in his career.
There is a lot of work to do with the outfield. Right now, only Benintendi is worth keeping. The Royals have one more season of control of him before he becomes a free agent. It’s too soon to consider a contract extension, but if he is still playing like this in August or September, the Royals might want to consider a multi-year deal if he has any interest.
Part of the problem could go away when the Royals promote Bobby Witt Jr. At that time, I would expect Witt to play third and Hunter Dozier go to right. The outfield becomes better when that happens. But when will it happen?
NEXT UP: The Royals travel to Minnesota Friday for a weekend series against the Twins. They need to win two out of three games to finish the road trip at .500.
Thanks for reading…