The Kansas City Royals have been the team to keep my eye recently. The Royals are quietly edging their way closer and closer to the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, and I've barely noticed. Throughout the season, they have been contending with the Tigers for first place, and have been quietly behind Detroit. Basically, the Royals are stalking the Tigers waiting for a moment to try to jump on them.
At the beginning of the season, the Royals started off slow with a 26-30 record, and were last place in the American League Central. However, starting on June 7th, the Royals went on a tear and won 10 straight games. In the stretch, the Royals showed their true strength and key to victory: Their bullpen.
9 out of the 10 games in the winning streak, the Royals got out to an at least 2-0 lead. In multiple games, the Royals were ahead by 5 at one stretch! With Greg Holland, and possibly the best bullpen in the MLB, the Royals just needed an early lead and the game was practically over.
At the end of the stretch, the Royals had actually taken over the number one spot in the AL Central by 1.5 games. However, the Royals were then set back with a 4 game losing streak (Where in all 4 games, the Royals were not able to build a 2 run lead before the 4th inning), and with Detroit beginning a 7 game win steak, the Royals were sent back to second place.
Throughout July, the Royals not only had to fight their way back from a 7 game deficit of the Tigers, but also a surging Cleveland Indians team. For a moment in mid-July, the Indians had actually moved into second place. However, the Royals then surged back into second, and like every year in baseball, the tides had turned.
The Royals winning began on July 22nd and has continued to this present day. Since July 22nd, the Royals are actually 16-3! Throughout their great run, the Royals have actually not played their brand of baseball as only 5 of their 16 wins have come off of 2 or larger run leads.
With saying this, I am actually frightened by the Royals. The Royals have beaten great teams in San Francisco and Oakland, without their great weapon. Knowing their streakiness, the Royals just need one big run of using their best advantage (Bullpen), and could take over the AL Central. At this point, the Royals are still 1.5 games back of Detroit. However, Detroit fans still need to be beware, as the Royals are quietly climbing the standings, and have yet to use their biggest weapon.