You can go ahead and take this to the bank online betting fans: the Royals are not going to let the American League Central title out of their hands. They probably weren’t anyway, but now that they have added ace pitcher Johnny Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds, they are even more of a lock to hold on in the division. After all, no one else in the division looks strong enough to mount a run. The usually tough Detroit Tigers look like they are headed toward a major rebuild, and while the Cleveland Indians have ace Corey Kluber on their staff, their offense is not consistent enough for them to contend in the division. The Twins looked like they might contend early on, but they have also failed to be consistent as the summer months have progressed.
Online Betting: With Cueto, Are The Royals Set For The World Series?
— Royals (@Royals) August 7, 2015
But can the Royals make it back to the World Series again? They went on a tear last fall, winning eight straight postseason games to win the wild card, sweep the division series and sweep the American League Championship Series before losing to San Francisco in the World Series. Can they run through the American League playoffs once again? Let’s take a look.
Even before Cueto came to town, this was a team that didn’t have a lot of flaws. Alex Gordon has a terrific all-around game, both in the field and at the plate. Salvador Perez has delivered power at the plate, and Lorenzo Cain is becoming a genuine star. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are developing consistency at the plate, and Kendry Morales has a .795 OPS that ranks him well above the average designated hitter in the American League (.758).
But what about defense? The Royals are strong there as well. They convert 71.2 percent of balls put into play into outs, ranking them second in the American League. They have 39 defensive runs saved, 19 more than the next-best team in the league. The late inning progression of Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera means that if you’re not beating Kansas City after six innings, you’re not likely to beat them at all. Other strong relievers include Ryan Madson, Jason Frasor, Franklin Morales and Brandon Finnegan. Here’s a scary stat: if you’re not ahead of the Royals after the end of the third inning, their record is 39-9. That includes games in which teams are tied with Kansas City after three.
But here’s why Johnny Cueto is a terrific acquisition when it comes to making Kansas City a terrific postseason team: they don’t have a true ace in their rotation. You need a scary starting pitcher when it comes to a short series, and the Royals don’t have anyone that scary. Chris Young is 36 years old and has a track record of injuries. Edinson Volquez has flashed of brilliance but is largely inconsistent. Jeremy Guthrie has a career ERA of 4.40 – and it’s been 5.40 this year – and he is 36. Remember what happened when he started Game 7 against San Francisco last year? Enough said. Cueto gives this team a legitimate ace – and a legitimate shot at a title.