Royals strength of schedule and the importance of the next several weeks

MLB: JUL 10 Royals at Cardinals - Game 2
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Cleveland’s schedule is about to get hard when the Royals’ schedule gets easier for a bit.

The Royals have three games against the Red Sox before the All-Star break, and those are some big games with Boston holding the last wild card spot at the moment. After the break, the Royals schedule gets noticeably softer for a couple of weeks while the Guardians have to play several tough opponents interspersed with only a few weaker ones. If the Royals want to climb back into the race for the Central, this is likely the only easy time to do so before the end of the season.

So far, Cleveland has played the easiest schedule in baseball, at least according to ESPN’s RPI measurement. I believe that, as every time I look up it seems like it is Guardians versus the Angels. After the break, the schedule will be decidedly more difficult for them. There is no perfect way to say how hard a schedule is, but by this or this or this measurement, the Guardians have the second-most difficult schedule remaining. Two in all of baseball and one is only for the AL. From July 19th through the end of August, they have to play San Diego, Philly, four against Baltimore, four in Minnesota, at Milwaukee, at Yankees, and four against Kansas City. That is 24 out of 41 games against playoff contenders who are above .500 over a month and a half.

During that same stretch, the Royals will be facing the White Sox twice, Arizona, the Cubs, and four in Detroit all before playing their first opponent in the second half with a record above .500. The rest of August also includes series against the Reds and the Angels along with a few games against the Cardinals who may not be good despite being a few games over .500 currently. If the Royals cannot be significantly over .500 during that stretch, then they will not make the playoffs. The September schedule is way less forgiving.

It is very possible that the Guardians just have too big of a lead and will navigate this difficult part of the schedule well enough to not matter, but they still seem vulnerable. Like we saw when they came to Kansas City, if you get ahead of the them, their bullpen never gets to come in and lock down games. That bullpen is really good. By fWAR it is the second-best in baseball and by ERA it is number one by a lot. Again, having the easiest schedule so far probably helps with that, but it is a legitimately tough pen. Their starters, on the other hand, have the 24th-best ERA and the worst fWAR as a group in all of baseball. Only Tanner Bibee is good. The rest of the starters are pretty rough.

It is also very possible that Cleveland falls back to the pack, but the Twins take over rather than the Royals. Right now, the Twins are 2.5 games up on KC. Their schedule is a bit more even through August. They play Milwaukee, Philly, the surprisingly decent Mets, Cleveland, KC, San Diego, and Atlanta for 21 games. The other 18 are against weaker opponents, so it is not overbalanced in either direction for the Twinkies.

It is time to go on a run or pack it in. The Royals are mostly healthy. They have a bunch of weak opponents to start playoff chase. Their owner has said they plan to add more talent. Everything is lined up for Kansas City to really make a push. I have a feeling we will know if this season is a real playoff opportunity or a pipe dream by the time Boston comes to town on August 5th.

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Title: Royals strength of schedule and the importance of the next several weeks
Author: RoyalTreatment

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