HBT Weekend Wrapup

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It occurred to me as I was driving eight hours back to central Ohio, away from the clear blue waters of Lake Michigan, away from the clean and cool air of the north, away from the fresh cherry pie and away from the easy, uncrowded and unhurried pace of life in my little vacation abode that I could easily write this blog from anywhere, so why not there?

But I have responsibilities here. Kids in school. A wife with a real job. A cat to feed. A fortified compound to patrol.  That kind of thing. I guess the sign of a truly good vacation is that you find yourself obsessing over real estate listings of the area after you’ve left. Alas.

Anyway, here’s what you missed while wondering if you could trust civilian movers to relocate your fortified compound to a little hamlet in Leelanau county:  

  • The Marlins are concerned
    about having to share a playing surface with the Dolphins. Maybe they
    should just lie about how much money they make and hoodwink Dade County
    and the City of Miami into paying for a new ballpark against the will of
    the taxpayers while simultaneously enriching themselves. Oh wait, they already did that.
  • Aroldis Chapman hit 105 on the radar gun. Probably the same one that cop used to clock me at 84 in that speed trap town in New Mexico a few years ago. I mean, no question, both the fastball and I were moving. I just kind of doubt that we were going that fast.
  • Someone needs to tell Nyjer Morgan that, given how he’s not that good at baseball, his primary selling point as a major leaguer is his infectious enthusiasm, positive attitude, old-timey stirrups and hustle (not necessarily in that order). In other words, he really needs to cut out all the bad guy stuff.

And with that, we can dive into this week and push the thoughts of vacationland out of our heads.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.16.51 AM
MLB.com
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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.