Singer Mostly On Key, But Results Still Flat
On the bright side, it was one of the best starts of the year for the Royals young pitcher.
It’s been a bit of a trying year for Brady Singer. He started off with a rough start against the Rangers and then got on track for a bit before taking a line drive off his foot and being really hit or miss throughout the season. There have been some good outings, some bad ones and a whole lot in between. Oh yeah, and there was a shoulder issue thrown in that has limited his pitches and innings in recent games. But yesterday, he had a shot to give some innings because it’s his last start before the break, meaning he’d have at least eight days between starts (and probably nine or 10, depending on how the Royals want to line up when they get back to face Baltimore).
So he was unleashed a bit. And the first inning was excellent. He got his buddy, Jonathan India, on the first pitch of the game. He worked around a single that wasn’t hit that hard by Jesse Winker and had a clean first. Then in the second, he worked a 1-2-3 inning that culminated with a hitter being about as fooled as can be when Tucker Barnhart lost the bat swinging at a 93.9 MPH sinker up, but off the plate.
He walked his friend with two outs in the third, but there was no damage done. He worked out of trouble in the fourth, got a couple more strikeouts in the fifth while giving up a hit to India and then in the sixth, I was worried things might unravel. He hit Tyler Stephenson with a 1-1 pitch and it sort of felt like that was going to be the point where he implodes. But he got a bit lucky with a sinker he left too much over the plate to Joey Votto and Votto hit it hard, but the Royals turned a very nice double play.
That was a good thing because he gave up a single to Tyler Naquin that ended up being meaningless. I thought he was done at 90 pitches. When he came back out for the seventh with the bottom of the order up, I didn’t really have an opinion either way about it. It was fine. If it was the top of the order or the middle, I’d have hated it, but whatever. What I did hate is that he gave up a single to Barnhart on another mistake sinker and then got pulled.
If you’re going to let him come back out, let him work through the bottom of the order. If you’re going to go to Scott Barlow when the first base runner reaches, just let Barlow start a clean inning. This is a situation we’ve seen with Singer in the past, coming up to the bottom of the order toward the end of his outing, and he’s been pulled in the previous outings. Look, I get that the bullpen is worn down a bit, but of the big relievers, only Kyle Zimmer has even pitched in this series, so I don’t think they’re incapable of getting three innings from some combination of Barlow, Greg Holland, Josh Staumont, Zimmer and Jake Brentz.
Of course, if you’re reading this, you know what happened. Barlow made what I thought was a good pitch to Shogo Akiyama but it went for a hit.
Then Mike Freeman hit a soft single to bring in the inherited run. Then India doubled to left on a curve that probably needed to be about six inches lower than where it ended up to give the Reds a 3-2 lead. They obviously wouldn’t give that up, getting single runs in both the eighth and ninth against Zimmer and Holland respectively.
I will say this for the offense. They didn’t completely just pack it in. They got the bases loaded in the eighth inning with two walks and a bunt single and Hunter Dozier gave a ball a ride that would have been a home run in 13 ballparks, but unfortunately Kauffman Stadium was not one of them.
Looks like he got it off the end of the bat a bit, but that was actually a pretty good swing from Dozier. He’s still not right, but I think he’s looked a bit better at least. He smoked a 112 MPH single earlier in the game too. If the rest of this season is spent getting Dozier’s mind and bat back to where it should be to be ready for 2022, there’s a success in that.
If we’re being honest, this game was a lot like Monday night’s game. There was plenty of blame to go around. The offense certainly deserves their share. They had first and third and nobody out in the third and didn’t get a single run. They had the bases loaded in the fourth after scoring two and Whit Merrifield popped up. It was an absolutely brutal game for Merrifield actually. He “lined” out to start the bottom of the first. Then there was the pop out in the third with in the first and third situation. He struck out later and grounded out to end the game. Not his finest game.
But you can also probably lay some blame for this game on Brad Keller and Kris Bubic and previous Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar and Daniel Lynch. Maybe that’s being a little bit too out there, but this bullpen has had to throw so many innings. Coming into the day, only five teams had used their bullpens more than the Royals. The Rays are masters at it, and they utilize an opener often enough that their numbers are skewed. The Padres have done well with it because they have some incredible depth, but the other three teams ahead of the Royals have had downright bad bullpens.
At some point, you have to get innings from your starters and while they have gotten at least six in three of the last four games, it’s just not enough to reverse that trend from the first 82 games. I can’t imagine anybody in that bullpen would use that as an excuse, but the reality is that tired arms get hit more. While we definitely deserve this break from the team coming up next week as fans, the bullpen really deserves it just to get some time off.
Bally Sports Strikes Out Again
It hasn’t really been a smooth transition to Bally Sports, has it? They aren’t carried everywhere, which is insane. Their app is glitchy at best. And then yesterday, when the clock turned to 5pm CDT, the Royals game went away and never came back, at least on many cable providers. I’ve worked in media and on the television side before. I get it. There’s a lot of automation in place to make everyone’s job easier (and also probably to pay fewer people, but we’ll ignore that). Someone has to be monitoring that and have a way to fix it if something like that happens. That bases loaded situation in the eighth? If you weren’t at the game or on one of the platforms that didn’t switch to a random show about tennis, you didn’t see it.
It probably wouldn’t have been met with so much online vitriol if not for the fact that it’s been a season of ridiculousness from the rights holder. It started with confusion about the score bug across the bottom of the screen and hasn’t really let up since. And it doesn’t help that MLB’s blackout rules are insane and, well, let’s just say there’s a lot to complain about here. My plea? Get it together. Figure it out. The fans shouldn’t be suffering due to incompetence out of their control.
Soler’s Days Dwindling
I’ve written this before, but I’ll repeat it here because every day he plays and doesn’t seem to make any strides, it gets closer. The Jorge Soler DFA is coming. I’m not sure what the odds are that he’ll be with the team on July 16 when they come back from the break, but they’re considerably lower than he’ll be on the team on July 31 after the deadline on the 30th. And then they continue to get lower. I’ve said all along that the Royals offense doesn’t reach the ceiling without Soler reaching his, so that’s why he’s gotten so many opportunities. Well that and the fact that they have been hoping that he could get hot and make himself tradeable.
He hasn’t. But I will say that they’re 14 games under .500 and while he’s standing between Edward Olivares and playing time, at this point, another two weeks to hope he can go on a barrage doesn’t really change too much, so if they want to hope, I assume they’ll find themselves disappointed but oh well. I just think the writing is on the wall. Mike Matheny has sounded so disappointed when talking about him and he was dropped from that number two spot and has played twice and sat twice since then. They gave it a shot, albeit a short one, and it didn’t work. Now the only question is if they should give him a minor league deal in 2022. I don’t know if he’ll want to play in a big stadium to try to rebuild value, but at that point, he’s an excellent risk/reward value. That’s another question for another day, though.