Friday, September 20, 2013

Texas Beats Tampa - Is that Good?

Last night started off excellent for the Royals with Boston knocking off Baltimore 3-1 and Toronto beating New York 6-2. If the Astros could have taken advantage of a bases loaded 1 out situation in the 9th against Cleveland, I would have went to bed an extremely happy man. Instead, Chris Perez continued to be blessed by a four leaf marijuana bud and escaped the jam. Here is how the wild card standings look heading into the weekend:

  1. Tampa Bay     83-69     --
  2. Texas     83-69     --
  3. Cleveland     83-70     0.5 GB
  4. Baltimore     81-71     2.0 GB
  5. Kansas City     80-72     3.0 GB
  6. New York     80-73     3.5 GB
As you can see, the Royals are 3 back with 10 to play. The odds are steep (4% according to Baseball Prospectus/ 9.9% according to Cool Standings).  Here are a few takeaways that I have after playing with some different scenarios.

Based off of my toying with the remaining schedule, the Royals need to win 8 of their final 10 games. There are ways to get the Royals into a tie breaker game with a 7-3 finish, but they aren't as reasonable as the aforementioned 8 win scenarios.

As we all know Cleveland's schedule is cake the rest of the way (3 vs Houston, 3 vs Chicago, 3 at Minnesota), which is why last night's win over the Astros was so frustrating. Due to Cleveland's schedule the rest of the way, there's a decent shot that Kansas City simply won't be able to make up 2 games against the Racists.

If Cleveland does get hot and beats the teams that they should beat over the final 10 games, Kansas City will be forced to pass or get even with each of Baltimore, Texas and Tampa Bay (already in front of New York). For this reason, it probably isn't a bad thing that Texas defeated Tampa Bay last night. Bare with me as I attempt to explain why...

First, Kansas City has three against Texas. If Texas would have lost, Kansas City would enter the weekend just 2 games behind them. What this means, is that in order for the Royals to pull even or pass Texas, Kansas City would have to sweep. If the Royals only take 2 of 3, Texas still leaves town with a 1 game cushion over the Boys in Blue. 

All the while, Kansas City would enter the weekend 4 behind Tampa, meaning over the final 10, the Royals would need Tampa to go 4-6 to pull even with the Rays.

With the way that it wound up unfolding (Texas defeating Tampa Bay last night), the Royals still enter the weekend needing a sweep to pull even with the Rangers. It is true that Kansas City can't pass Texas by Monday. However, regardless of whether Texas won or lost last night the Royals controlled their own destiny against the Rangers. Since Texas won, the Royals only have to play 3 games better than the Rays the rest of the way to pull even with them.

Fortunately, when discussing the Rays it should be noted that they don't have the cake walk schedule that the Indians have. The Rays play 4 against Baltimore, 3 at New York, and close with 3 at Toronto. A 5-5 finish isn't inconceivable by any stretch.

The Royals already control their own fate against New York, which leaves Baltimore. Baltimore plays 4 at Tampa, 3 vs Toronto, and 3 vs Boston. the Royals are only one behind the Orioles and it is hard to imagine Baltimore winning 8 or 9 of their final 10 games with that schedule. If they do, you better hope that Cleveland falters.

Basically, what this boils down to is that with a sweep this weekend and then a 5-2 final week, I feel pretty confident, but not certain, that the Royals would sneak into at least a tie breaker game. Even if the Royals only take 2 of 3 this weekend, their hopes aren't dashed as long as they can somehow get 6 wins in their final 7 games.

Also, just because a team is playing a sub par opponent in the final series of the season, doesn't mean strange things can't happen. This is baseball, and because we are watching baseball, a team within 3 games will always have a chance going into the final weekend.

First and foremost, the Royals need to sweep the Rangers this weekend, but if they only take 2 of 3, don't give up hope just yet.

Bonus Thought: Two teams that will play a huge role in this race are Houston and Toronto. Kansas City doesn't play either so if the Astros and/or the Blue Jays can get hot it would be huge boon for the Royals. 

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