After finishing a sweep of the Diamondbacks last night in Arizona, the Kansas City Royals are now two-and-a-half games back of the division leading Detroit Tigers and have a half-game lead over the Yankees, the Mariners and the Blue Jays for the second Wild Card spot.
Simply put, if the season ended today, the Kansas City Royals would be in the playoffs.
They are 60-53, matching their season-high mark for games over .500, and, since their disastrous post-All-Star Break sweep at the hands of the mostly-lowly Boston Red Sox, 12-3 over their last 15 contests. All in all, pretty crazy.
So what do they have to do to make their first playoff appearance in nearly 30 years? Well, win. Obviously.
There are 49 games remaining in the schedule.
26 of those games are against AL Central opponents, so obviously, this is where they can make up the most ground. They’ve got seven games left against Minnesota who they are 6-6 against this season. They’ve got six games left against the Cleveland Indians. So far this season, they are 7-6 against the Tribe. They are 8-4 against the White Sox this season, which is great because they play them seven more times. And finally—and this is the big one—they play the Tigers six more times. This is maybe NOT great because the Tigers have taken nine-of-thirteen from KC this season, and ICYMI, they added one of the best pitchers in baseball at the trade deadline.
Rounding things out, they play three against the Giants who are pretty good, four more against Oakland who are VERY good, two more against Colorado who suck really hard, SIX against Texas who they haven’t yet played but who are very bad, and four more apiece against Boston and the NYY. As previously mentioned, they were swept by the Bostons in their first rodeo, and they are 2-1 against the Yankees in 2014.
All in all, they have a 31-30 record against the teams on their remaining schedule. (Obviously, this only incorporates the teams they’ve played, because that’s the only thing that makes sense.) The average winning percentage of their remaining opponents is a very manageable .4883. According to ESPN’s magical playoff calculator—which factors in things like “strength of schedule” and “likelihood of more Nori Aoki grand slams,”— they have a 39% chance of making the postseason.
Here’s the deal: they MUST play better against the Indians and the Twins. There is absolutely no fathomable reason that they should be just one game over .500 against these two clubs. They cannot afford to be swept by the Red Sox again, and they have to stomp the ever-loving shit out of the god-awful Rangers.
They have to do these things.
Because I think they caught the Athletics at a really down spot the first time and I don’t expect them to take all four games, or even go 3-1 in the remaining series. (A split would be perfectly fine.)
Because they play the Yankees four more times and, while these aren’t your grandmother’s Yankees (or even your 25-year-old nephew’s Yankees), they’re a good ball club.
Because these are the Royals who don’t do things like “meet or exceed expectations,” or “go to the playoffs.”
All I know is, thank God they’re not playing Houston any more this year.
The target to get in has to be at least 90 wins. Therefore, the Royals must go 30-19 over the next two months.
So, I wanna know: do you think they can do it?