AL Central Roundup 4/12/13
By Ben Noble
After nearly two weeks of games, the Royals sit atop the AL Central at 6-3, while Cleveland has gotten off to the slowest start at 3-5. Here’s a quick rundown across the division:
Apr 9, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) hits a single in the first inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Expectations are higher this year for the Kansas City Royals and through the first three series, they’ve been rising to the occasion, winning six of seven after an 0-2 start. The revamped starting rotation has paid off, as their starter has reached six innings in seven of nine starts. Billy Butler (two home runs, 11 RBI) and Alex Gordon has a .978 OPS. Next up is a tough stretch of schedule where they’ll face Toronto, Atlanta, Boston and Detroit, which should tell a lot about how different this team is compared to past groups.
The Detroit Tigers’ bullpen has been awful early on this season; through nine games (26.2 innings) they’ve accumulated a 6.41 ERA (second worst ERA in baseball). A lot has been made of the Tigers’ troublesome closer situation (mostly being that they don’t have one), but the current relief issues aren’t necessarily directly tied to that — they’ve had trouble even getting the ball to the ninth inning in a save situation. They’ll continue to have trouble in the middle and late innings unless they can get their starters to go deeper into games.
Apr 11, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie (12) hits a double during the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
The White Sox started off the season looking decent, albeit against teams without proven track records, and watched it catch up to them once they faced a reigning division champ in the Nationals. Their inability to hit with runners in scoring position has left them relying on solo homeruns to carry the scoring load, which needless to say isn’t always enough. The pitching staff has been faring well despite the spotty run support even with John Danks beginning the season on the DL. The Sox will enter the next week with 2 infielders that were recently thought of as utility players manning full time positions in Conor Gillaspie and Jeff Keppinger due to an injury to starting second baseman Gordon Beckham.
The Indians had a great first couple games of the season, beating the revamped Blue Jays 4-1 and 3-2 in a pair of good, close games. Then came trouble: they lost five of their six subsequent games to the Blue Jays, Rays, and Yankees before a pair of storms washed out the second half of the home opening series. In each of those losses the Indians gave up 10 or more runs and/or scored one or fewer runs, but on the plus side the one win was a 13-0 rout of reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price and the Rays. So while it’s way too soon to panic, it hasn’t exactly been a fun week in Cleveland.
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