Look how the mighty have fallen. A year ago, we were talking about a Kansas City Royals team off a World Series title and back-to-back AL pennants, one that looks poised for another deep run and one returning most of the same team from the year before.
Now, just one year later, things look entirely different. The bullpen that led the way during their run isn’t as strong and many of the core pieces are sitting just a year away from free agency. Of all the teams in baseball, the Royals are the hardest to peg. They’ve got the team with a pedigree that could easily be a surprising team. At the same time, if things go south, they almost have to sell off their pending free agents to get what they can and start a rebuild.
2016 Record: 81-81
2016 Moneyline Record: +2.06 Units
2016 Over/Under Total Record: 75-78-9
Current World Series Odds: +4200
Current Odds To Win AL: +1976
Current Odds To Win AL Central: +675
Regular Season Win Total: 75.5
After missing all but 27 games last year, Mike Moustakas is back and that alone should be a huge boast, though Cheslor Cuthbert played pretty well in his absence. Still, Moustakas offers more pop and much more upside.
Moose is just one of the players looking to have a big season in preparation for free agency. That should be a good motivating factor for him as well as Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain. The added motivation could be a good thing for Kansas City, but it’s always hard to tell how a player will react with the added pressure of playing for a contract.
In general, injuries hit the Royals hard last year. They lost Moustakas and played a chunk of the year without Alex Gordon, lost Lorenzo Cain for a number of games and did haven’t Wade Davis when it mattered most. Still, the team ended up .500. With a few better breaks, they could have gained an extra handful of wins and been right in the thick of the Wild Card hunt.
This team will have Moustakas, Gordon and Cain all healthy—at least to start the year. Davis, meanwhile, is now closing things down in Chicago for the Cubs and in exchange, the Royals added Jorge Soler who they hope can help provide more power. Power hasn’t been the strength of this team, but now with the young outfielder as wells as the addition of Brandon Moss to replace Kendrys Morales, Kansas City will try to win a different way.
Of course, the Royals do still have a number of contact hitters and speed guys, but they did sent Jarrod Dyson to Seattle as a sign they’re shifting to a different way to generate runs.
On the mound, the Royals will be without one of their most dynamic starters in Yordano Ventura due to the young right-hander’s untimely death. While a key part of both the 2014 and 2015 runs, Ventura never fully lived up to his potential, but seemed to turn the corner at the end of last year.
Now, the team will look for Danny Duffy to be the ace after a break out year last year. He’ll be joined by a number of good mid-to-back-end starters who the Royals hope can at least give the team five to six solid innings more often than not.
Amongst the arms likely to fill the last four spots are Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Jason Vargas and Travis Wood. The team also has Nate Karns, Chris Young, Matt Strahm and Mike Minor as candidates.
So, the rotation may actually better than in years past. There’s still not a lot of top of the rotation arms, but a collection of No. 3 and No. 4 starters can get the job done if the offense is good enough and the bullpen is lock down.
A lockdown pen has been the team’s formula for years, but what was once a near certainty is much more of a question. With Davis gone, Kevlin Herrera slides into the closer role. He’s well equipped to perform in that spot and did well filling in for Davis when he was injured last year. That’s not a question, but leading up to him is. Can Joakim Soria bounce back after some struggles last year? Who does the team have before Soria that can be counted on?
With enough depth in the rotation, Strahm will likely be counted on in the pen instead of the rotation and that’s an electric arm to help. He had a 1.23 ERA in 22 innings and could be the next great arm out of this pen. Even if he proves successful, is it enough?
April 3-6: at Twins
April 7-9: at Astros
April 10-13: vs. Athletics
April 14-16: vs. Angels
April 18-19: vs. Giants
April 20-23: at Rangers
April 24-26: at White Sox
April 28-30: vs. Twins
The Royals will ease into the 2017 with a road series in Minnesota in what could be a very cold opening series. Weather aside, three of the first four series are against teams expected to be well out of the postseason picture in Minnesota, Oakland and the Angels. In fact, only three series in all of April will feature legitimate preseason picks to compete: Houston, San Francisco and Texas.
The weaker competition is good as the Royals are one team that’s probably most in need of a hot start. They’re direction will be determined in the first couple months. If they struggle out of the gate, this will be a team with plenty to offer in July as a seller and that could lead to a very bad end of the year. If, however, the team is in the thick of things, Dayton Moore already showed he was willing to trade talent for a run in acquiring Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto a couple years ago and this team could make one last push with their current crop of talent.
View this years MLB game match-ups with the complete seasonal schedule for all MLB teams. Each year we will be updating the season schedule with the current information including final scores, so bookmark this page.
The 2017 Major League Baseball season is tentatively set to begin on April 2, 2017, and feature three games, including the 2016 World Series champions Chicago Cubs facing off against the St. Louis Cardinals, which will be ESPN's first Sunday Night Baseball game of the year.
The 88th MLB All-Star Game will be hosted by the Miami Marlins and will be played at Marlins Park on July 11, 2017. It will be televised nationally on Fox.
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