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Royals Restored: What the Royals Can Do (and Continue to Do) to Make a Run at the Playoffs

The Royals are currently 7-4 at the time of writing this piece and sit in 2nd place in the AL Central standings 1 game back behind the Cleveland Guardians. According to predictors and analytics, they are projected as of now to win 80 games, their best season since 2017, and that number could certainly go up. Let's look at how the Royals continue their winning ways and how they can put themselves into the best position possible for a playoff run come October.



Bolster the Bullpen

The Royals' starting pitching is one of the best in baseball and is showing no signs of slowing down, a far cry from the days of Cal Eldredge, and pathetic arms are strewn about the entirety of the pitching corps. Guys like Cole Ragans, Seth Lugo, Alex Marsh, and others have been absolutely stellar this year, throwing for a league-best 8 quality starts thus far and a 2.55 combined ERA. While the starting pitching has been great so far though, the relievers have left a bit to be desired. They've unfortunately been the reason the Royals have lost all 4 of the games they've lost, to be frank, however, they are showing an upside these past couple of games. They've shut down opposing offenses each of the last 3 games in order to give the offense the best chance to win it, which is certainly a step up. An example would be last night's contest, where the relievers had to pitch 10 innings, but did so impeccably, giving Salvador Perez a chance to knock in the game-winning run. You couldn't say that about last year's Royals, who had no pitching to begin with, but certainly no relievers that would give up less than 3 runs a game on average. Keep bolstering that bullpen, and good things will happen.



Managerial Excellence

Matt Quatraro is in his second year of Royals' management. His first year was far from perfect, in fact pretty much the opposite, but he was handed a dumpster fire by Mike Matheny and company who didn't seem to want to put in the effort to make a team with a ton of potential and promise into a team that could capitalize on it. Quatraro is different though. In just his second year, he seems to have the batting lineup figured out to produce the most amount of offense, a killer starting pitching rotation, and has strategically put his players in the right spots where they can be the most successful. Quatraro is showing effort, and it is paying dividends, so continue to put in the effort. Even if the Royals skid at some point this season, which given the youth and inexperience on this team is bound to happen at some point, fight through that adversity and be the leader this young ball club needs to succeed. Quatraro has the help of veterans like Salvador Perez, but it's up to him to keep this team hot and in the best position to win ballgames. He's done it masterfully so far this season...


Have Fun and be a TEAM

Part of what made the 2014 and 2015 Royals so great was that they were a fun baseball team to watch. They had personalities, guys that looked good, played well, and in the end, played well together. Team chemistry is a major aspect of baseball that rarely gets talked about by scouts and analysts, but deserves a spotlight due to how important it is in winning games. This Royals team has the most chemistry that we've seen since that 2015 World Series run because they have fun as well as play good baseball. Part of the reason they play good baseball is because they have that trust, the managers have that trust, and they execute with teamwork and chemistry in mind. Guys like Bobby Witt, Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino, and these other young guys are program guys who love being on this team, and it shows in their play and in their off-the-field attitudes. If I were Matt Quatraro, I'd be leaning into that heavily and building a culture as well as a good, strategically sound team.



Conclusion

The Royals' offense will not necessarily need to stay hot as well (see the 2015 squad) however it's icing on the cake that the Royals have one of the most productive offenses in the league right now, leading the American League in team home runs (crazy I know) Top that with excellent in-field play along with what's mentioned above, and you have a baseball team that's hard to stop. The Royals are on a 5-game win streak right now and look red hot heading into what has historically been the struggle months for them. Continuity and consistency are perhaps the most important keys to being in the playoff hunt come the All-Star break, and I believe the Royals can be that team so long as they build on the bullpen, Quatraro keeps this team strategically sound, and they just continue having fun and being a team, which is why those were my three keys. I may be a bit sour with the owner right now and his decision-making, but the Royals are a fun team to watch again...now if only there were a way to regularly watch them...


Burn Notice: 8/10 Royals getting hot, can they catch fire?

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