Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Kansas City Royals
news

Royals News

Keller continues rookie roll in Detroit

Righty twirls 1-run, 7-inning gem, lowers ERA to 3.08
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

DETROIT -- Royals right-hander Brad Keller continued his dominant rookie season with yet another stellar outing Sunday afternoon.

Keller held down the Tigers through seven innings, allowing just three hits and one run, in the Royals' 3-2 victory at Comerica Park. Kansas City split the four-game set.

View Full Game Coverage

DETROIT -- Royals right-hander Brad Keller continued his dominant rookie season with yet another stellar outing Sunday afternoon.

Keller held down the Tigers through seven innings, allowing just three hits and one run, in the Royals' 3-2 victory at Comerica Park. Kansas City split the four-game set.

View Full Game Coverage

Keller, who was perfect through three innings, yielded just three singles. He walked three and struck out two while lowering his ERA to 3.08.

Video: KC@DET: Yost on Peralta, Keller and Gallagher in win

Royals manager Ned Yost said after the game that Sunday was Keller's last start of the season.

"We want to get Eric Skoglund one more start next weekend," Yost said. "It's more beneficial for him to get another start than Keller. Keller has had a fantastic season."

Keller's only jam came in the sixth. With one out, he walked Jeimer Candelario and Christin Stewart. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, but Keller then struck out Nicholas Castellanos on a slider down and away, and jammed Niko Goodrum, who popped out to short.

"Castellanos is tough, and he's burned us a couple of times this series," Yost said. "Keller made a good pitch to get through that."

Keller's approach?

"Just go after him," Keller said. "We knew he would be aggressive. He's been aggressive all series. The tying run was essentially on second, we didn't want to give him anything good. Threw some pretty good sliders there.

"Big moment right there, especially after the team gave me the lead."

Meanwhile, Kansas City's offense mustered just enough support. Adalberto Mondesi took a 3-2, four-seam fastball from Daniel Norris in the first inning and drove it over the left-field fence for his 12th home run.

Video: KC@DET: Mondesi belts a solo homer to left in the 1st

In the sixth, Alcides Escobar singled and went to third on Rosell Herrera's single. After Herrera stole second base, catcher Cam Gallagher blooped a two-run single to left.

Video: KC@DET: Gallagher lofts a 2-run single to break tie

Royals closer Wily Peralta got his 13th save and ended the game by striking out Jim Adduci, which Peralta did on Friday as well. Peralta already had allowed a run and had the tying run on second.

"At times he'll walk a bit of a tightrope, but he's been perfect, 13-for-13," Yost said of Peralta. "He doesn't panic. He just keeps making pitches."

On Friday, Peralta started out with one fastball against Adduci and then went with mostly changeups before getting him on a slider.

"Two straight times I had to get him," Peralta said, smiling. "Last time we started with one fastball and two changeups. This time we decided to double up with the fastball and he was late both times. Then I got a changeup over that was high but he didn't get it. Very happy for that."

Video: KC@DET: Peralta strikes out Adduci to earn 13th save

UP NEXT
After an off-day Monday, the Royals will play their final two road games of 2018 starting Tuesday in Cincinnati at 5:40 p.m. CT. Left-hander Eric Skoglund (1-5, 5.60 ERA) will start for the Royals, while right-hander Matt Harvey (7-9, 4.92) will go for the Reds. Skoglund threw six scoreless innings on three hits Sept. 18 against the Pirates.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Brad Keller

Royals boast rotation depth heading into '19

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

DETROIT -- One of the many positives to emerge in the last six weeks of this Royals season has been the development and depth of the starting rotation.

And that should bode well for manager Ned Yost come Spring Training 2019. Yost and general manager Dayton Moore always have talked about going into a season with eight or nine viable rotation candidates.

View Full Game Coverage

DETROIT -- One of the many positives to emerge in the last six weeks of this Royals season has been the development and depth of the starting rotation.

And that should bode well for manager Ned Yost come Spring Training 2019. Yost and general manager Dayton Moore always have talked about going into a season with eight or nine viable rotation candidates.

View Full Game Coverage

The Royals appear to already have that type of depth, even before Moore and his staff possibly add some cost-efficient veterans this winter.

"We've seen a lot of growth in the rotation," Yost said. "We've seen positive things with the whole club, but yes, the rotation has pitched well."

Going into 2019, the Royals would appear to have four rotation spots set with Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Brad Keller and Jakob Junis.

Video: KC@CLE: Junis stifles Indians over seven innings

Eric Skoglund, Heath Fillmyer, Jorge Lopez, Glenn Sparkman, Scott Barlow and Trevor Oaks likely will all compete for the fifth spot.

"And you never know who will emerge out of Spring Training," Yost said. "It could be a name you don't think of right now."

Skoglund, Fillmyer and Lopez all have shown the ability to pitch well at this level.

After missing several months because of a UCL sprain, Skoglund has had two solid September starts, giving up just two runs and five hits over 11 innings.

Video: KC@PIT: Skoglund tosses 6 scoreless frames vs. Bucs

Fillmyer has had five quality starts since late July and has impressed the coaching staff with his bulldog mentality and competitiveness.

Lopez, who has been battling a deep rib bruise, was dominant in two straight starts recently, including one against the Twins in which he became the first pitcher in Royals history to carry a perfect game into the ninth inning.

"They've had their ups and downs," Yost said. "But the thing that is impressive is they can go out and pitch a Major League game. What I mean by that is they can go out and pitch into the seventh inning, keep us in the game, control the pitch count, field the position, throw strikes. They've all done that, multiple times. That's pretty impressive.

"They all have had their stinkers, too. But they're building consistency. The games they have given us a chance to win far outnumber their stinkers."

Yost believes none of his young pitchers are flukes.

"It's a group that has been fun watching," Yost said. "It's a group that has really embraced the studying part of it. We've never had a whole group like that. They are constantly on the computer, breaking down what to look for. It's fun to watch kids with an idea [of] what they're doing, rather than just relying on the catcher. That's why we think they'll continue to be successful."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Scott Barlow, Danny Duffy, Jakob Junis, Brad Keller, Ian Kennedy, Jorge Lopez, Trevor Oaks, Eric Skoglund, Glenn Sparkman

Junis deals quality start, but Royals fall to Tigers

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

DETROIT -- One of the strong suits that Royals manager Ned Yost has admired about his starting pitchers lately is their ability to grind through starts even without their best stuff.

Such was the case Saturday at Comerica Park as Royals right-hander Jakob Junis gave up eight hits and tossed three wild pitches, but still kept the Royals close. Junis gave up just three runs through six innings in the Royals' 5-4 loss to the Tigers.

View Full Game Coverage

DETROIT -- One of the strong suits that Royals manager Ned Yost has admired about his starting pitchers lately is their ability to grind through starts even without their best stuff.

Such was the case Saturday at Comerica Park as Royals right-hander Jakob Junis gave up eight hits and tossed three wild pitches, but still kept the Royals close. Junis gave up just three runs through six innings in the Royals' 5-4 loss to the Tigers.

View Full Game Coverage

The Tigers broke a 3-3 tie in the eighth when Mikie Mahtook drilled a two-run home run to left on a hanging slider from right-hander Jason Hammel, who lost his team-high 14th game.

Video: KC@DET: Mahtook breaks the tie in 8th with 2-run HR

"I liked the matchup of [Hammel's] slider for where we were in the order," Yost said. "Plus he was the freshest arm we had, and he hadn't thrown in three days. [Brandon] Maurer was coming off a 35-pitch inning, [Ben] Lively coming off an 18-pitch inning and [Kevin] McCarthy coming off a 16-pitch inning.

"I wouldn't say [Hammel has been hanging his sliders] quite a bit, but he's been hanging it. He'll throw a slider to [James] McCann and he'll miss it by a foot. Then he'll throw one like he did to Mahtook. And they're not missing it."

Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield doubled in Brett Phillips with two outs in the eighth, tying the score at 3. Salvador Perez belted his 27th home run, tying his career high set last season, in the ninth.

Video: KC@DET: Perez cuts the deficit with solo homer in 9th

"I want to get one more [home run], at least one more," Perez said. "I missed 25 games early, so that's pretty good. I try to get better every season."

Junis delivered his fourth quality start in his last five tries. In fact, two of the runs he allowed were somewhat cheap.

In the first inning, Junis gave up a two-out single to Nicholas Castellanos and an infield single to Victor Martinez, who played the final game of his career. Martinez reached on a slow roller to Merrifield, who couldn't get a handle on the ball to make the play. Niko Goodrum followed with an RBI single.

"First couple of innings, a couple of infield hits cost me a lot of pitches," Junis said. "To get through the sixth inning with the way the game started, that was a good accomplishment."

In the fifth, Detroit's JaCoby Jones singled with one out and moved to second on a walk to Pete Kozma. Junis then threw a sinker that dipped toward the dirt and skipped through the legs of catcher Meibrys Viloria -- it was ruled a wild pitch. Moments later, Junis threw a slider that bounced past Viloria for another wild pitch, scoring Jones.

Video: KC@DET: Jones comes home on Junis' wild pitch

"The [wild pitch] that scored the run was my fault," Junis said. "We had a mixup on the signs from the previous at-bat and it just slipped my mind [what the new signs were]."

Added Yost, "I thought [Junis] threw the ball really well. We had a couple of opportunities where we couldn't make a play and it cost him. But he kept us in the game and gave us a chance."

Video: KC@DET: Yost discusses pitching performances in loss

The Royals got on the board first when Merrifield led off the game with a triple to right-center. Adalberto Mondesi drove him in with a sacrifice fly to center.

Video: KC@DET: Mondesi opens the scoring with a sac fly

Alex Gordon drilled his 12th home run of the season into the right-field seats in the fourth, which tied the score at 2. Gordon has a team-high 31 RBIs since Aug. 1.

Video: KC@DET: Gordon smokes a solo home run to right

SOUND SMART
With two more hits, Merrifield took over the American League lead with 183, one ahead of Boston's J.D. Martinez. The last Royal to lead the league in hits was Kevin Seitzer in 1987 -- Seitzer tied Minnesota's Kirby Puckett with 207.

Video: KC@DET: Merrifield ties game in 8th with RBI double

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Mondesi continues to make brilliant plays at shortstop and he did so again in the seventh inning. With Castellanos on second base, Ronny Rodriguez chopped a grounder toward left field. Mondesi cut the ball off moving to his right and made an across-the-body-throw that just nipped Rodriguez at first.

Video: KC@DET: Mondesi makes terrific backhand play at short

HE SAID IT
"He called me on my first day here and told me to come out and give him a hug [tonight]. He taught me so much inside and outside of baseball; how to play and how to take care of your family. I will try to be like him and play until I'm 39." -- Perez, on greeting fellow Venezuelan Victor Martinez as Martinez trotted off the field after his final career at-bat

Video: KC@DET: V-Mart beats out single for final hit

UP NEXT
Right-hander Brad Keller (8-6, 3.17 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals in the series finale against the Tigers at Comerica Park on Sunday at 12:10 p.m. CT. Left-hander Daniel Norris (0-5, 5.71) will pitch for the Tigers. Keller gave up four runs for the first time since Aug. 7 when he did so over six innings Monday against the Pirates.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Jakob Junis

These are the 2018 second-half All-Star teams

MLB.com @castrovince

Baseball's All-Star Game is our annual opportunity to pause the hustle and bustle of the 162-game schedule and appreciate those who have defined the season, to date. But that date, of course, comes at a point in which so much of the season story is still unwritten. And even though the 2018 Midsummer Classic came especially late (teams had played nearly 100 games by that point), there are plenty of players whose performance since the break is worth appreciating, too.

So let's pretend there's such a thing as the Second-Half All-Star Game, in which the only numbers that matter are the ones accrued since July 19.

Baseball's All-Star Game is our annual opportunity to pause the hustle and bustle of the 162-game schedule and appreciate those who have defined the season, to date. But that date, of course, comes at a point in which so much of the season story is still unwritten. And even though the 2018 Midsummer Classic came especially late (teams had played nearly 100 games by that point), there are plenty of players whose performance since the break is worth appreciating, too.

So let's pretend there's such a thing as the Second-Half All-Star Game, in which the only numbers that matter are the ones accrued since July 19.

Here are my personal picks for the starting squads for this imaginary tilt. And note that in situations where there are multiple players in a relative "tie," I'm going to lean toward the guy who wasn't an actual All-Star this season or who had a rough first half, if only to accentuate second-half surges.

All stats are through Saturday's games.

First base

AL: Luke Voit, Yankees (.314/.385/.648, 11 HR, 2 2B, 25 RBIs)
There are first-base options with larger sample sizes than Voit's 130 plate appearances, including other guys who have taken advantage of unexpected opportunity, like the Astros' Tyler White and the Royals' Ryan O'Hearn, But Voit, acquired in a low-profile trade with the Cardinals, is the perfect example of the kind of player who rises from obscurity, puts on the pinstripes, rips a bunch of big hits and just generally makes people hate the New York Yankees.

Video: Must C Crushed: Voit hits HR to set Yankees, MLB mark

NL: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs (.319/.424/.552, 12 HR, 10 2B, 1 3B, 34 RBIs, 2 SB)
I went into this exercise with Matt Carpenter's name penciled in at first, but his statistical surge began well before the break, and Rizzo actually has better numbers when you look strictly at the second half (Carp has slashed .260/.386/.534). Paul Goldschmidt would also qualify after rebounding from a poor start, but he recovered in time to make it as a reserve in the All-Star Game. So Rizzo is the best fit for what we're looking for on this squad. He also gets bonus points for his late July pitching appearance and his marathon 17-pitch, first-inning at-bat vs. the D-backs earlier this week.

Second base

AL: Joey Wendle, Rays (.325/.384/.495, 3 HR, 20 2B, 2 3B, 27 RBIs, 8 SB)
Don't you just love it when rookies rise up to make an unexpectedly awesome impact?

NL: Jeff McNeil, Mets (.328/.382/.410, 3 HR, 10 2B, 6 3B, 18 RBIs, 5 SB)
Like I said, don't you just love it when rookies rise up to make an unexpectedly awesome impact? Wendle and McNeil are both older by rookie standards (McNeil is 26, Wendle is 28). Both had to take their lumps (Wendle struggled to get real opportunity with the A's, while McNeil was limited by injury to just 51 games in the Minors in 2016 and '17) to get here. But here they are.

Shortstop

AL: Didi Gregorius, Yankees (.280/.357/.547, 10 HR, 5 2B, 3 3B, 34 RBIs)
At this stacked position, there just wasn't enough room on the real AL All-Star roster to recognize Gregorius' absurd (and unsustainable) April. In fact, he's never been an All-Star. But he's worked around a heel injury to post the best wRC+ mark (144) of any Major League shortstop with at least 100 plate appearances in the second half, so we'll give him the love he deserves. Boston's Xander Bogaerts would be just as worthy a selection, and Kansas City's Adalberto Mondesi is developing into something special.

NL: Trevor Story, Rockies (.281/.326/.537, 13 HR, 13 2B, 34 RBIs, 14 SB)
Yes, Story did make the real NL squad, but as a reserve. Brandon Crawford was a perfectly valid selection for the starting nod by the fans at the time, but, if we had to recast our votes today, Story would be the clear starter here. He's the first shortstop in history with 40 doubles, 30 homers and 25 steals in a season.

Video: ARI@COL: Story sets new club record on 471-ft. homer

Third base

AL: Matt Chapman, A's (.321/.379/.616, 13 HR, 25 2B, 3 3B, 37 RBIs)
Again, we'll go with the non-All-Star wherever possible on this list, so Alex Bregman, despite vaulting himself into the MVP conversation in the second half, takes a backseat here. And even the absurd second half of Yankees rookie Miguel Andujar falls short of what Chapman continues to mean to the A's. His defense is always extraordinary, and his offensive uptick (from a first-half slash of .250/.342/.434) has been dramatic.

NL: Justin Turner, Dodgers (.376/.470/.653, 8 HR, 21 2B, 1 3B, 30 RBIs, 1 SB)
In the first half, Turner dealt with the lingering effects from the fractured wrist he sustained this spring. In the second half, once he recovered from a groin strain, he's been the red-bearded monster we expect him to be.

Outfield

AL: Mike Trout, Angels (.331/.481/.719, 13 HR, 6 2B, 1 3B, 27 RBIs, 9 SB)
Again, we'll break any perceived ties by going with non-All-Stars, but there's no tying Trout. He's simply having one of the best halves of his extraordinary career and again mounting an MVP argument in a lost Angels season.

Tommy Pham, Rays (.331/.421/.567, 7 HR, 7 2B, 5 3B, 22 RBIs, 3 SB)
Pham has rediscovered himself with the Rays after the Cardinals' decision to move him at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. All the underlying stats insisted he was the victim of bad luck in an average first half (.243 average, .722 OPS), and they were right.

Stephen Piscotty, A's (.275/.336/.546, 14 HR, 17 2B, 39 RBIs, 1 SB)
What a joy it's been to see Piscotty put it back together on the big stage after the emotional upheaval of losing his mother. He makes this list really because of the way he's surged in September, with a 1.160 OPS, seven homers and four doubles through 17 games. The Rangers' Joey Gallo, who has mixed in a better OBP to go with his usual power prowess, would also be a good fit here.

NL: Christian Yelich, Brewers (.358/.420/.724, 20 HR, 17 2B, 4 3B, 50 RBIs, 8 SB)
Though Yelich was an actual All-Star, what reasonable person could leave him off this list? He was a reserve in the Midsummer Classic, but now he might be the NL MVP favorite. His 20 homers since the break are one shy of his previous career high for a full season. He even kind of helped the Cleveland Browns win a game for the first time in forever.

Video: Yelich makes history with 2nd cycle of '18 vs. Reds

Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves (.319/.406/.647, 19 HR, 14 2B, 4 3B, 39 RBIs, 13 SB)
Acuna is the epitome of what we're looking for on this list, as his ascension to the leadoff spot directly out of the All-Star break broke him loose and arguably put the Braves over the top in the AL East.

Juan Soto, Nationals (.287/.401/.505, 11 HR, 12 2B, 1 3B, 37 RBIs, 3 SB)
Soto's specific second-half case isn't quite as stark as Acuna's, but, again, here's an opportunity to highlight a guy whose timing just didn't align with the selection of the regular All-Star rosters, but is nonetheless one of the stars of the season. Alas, selecting him meant bumping Bryce Harper in the midst of his monster second half (after some people criticized Harper's All-Star starting selection in the midst of a frustrating first half). It's also tough to leave off the Mets' Brandon Nimmo, the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig, the D-backs' David Peralta and the Padres' Franmil Reyes, among other deserving candidates.

Catcher

AL: Salvador Perez, Royals (.249/.291/.513, 14 HR, 10 2B, 36 RBIs)
Perez, with a .653 OPS at the break, was objectively undeserving of his spot on the AL roster this year (he filled the Royals' quota), much less the starting spot he received when Wilson Ramos got hurt. So we'll give him credit for an improved second half in the power department, including a walk-off grand slam last week. Shout-out, too, to Omar Narvaez for making the most of his limited playing time with the White Sox (.858 OPS).

NL: Austin Hedges, Padres (.247/.297/.500, 10 HR, 7 2B, 2 3B, 20 RBIs, 2 SB)
Hedges' job is in jeopardy with the recent acquisition of Francisco Mejia (who has already had some big hits for the Friars), and he had a miserable, injury-plagued first half. But Hedges made some changes to his swing and stance and has had a solid second half.

Designated hitter

AL: Shohei Ohtani, Angels (.288/.370/.606, 13 HR, 10 2B, 1 3B, 33 RBIs, 7 SB)
The two-way Ohtani's elbow injury, which had him completely sidelined at the time the All-Star rosters were being put together, is one of the biggest bummers of 2018. His continued offensive explosion, even while nursing a UCL tear, is one of the biggest stunners of the season. The A's Khris Davis (who has never been an All-Star despite three straight 40-homer seasons) and the Rays' Ji-Man Choi also would have fit the bill here, and of course J.D. Martinez remains incredible.

Video: SEA@LAA: Ohtani goes back-to-back with Trout for 20th

NL: Yasiel Puig (.285/.347/.577, 11 HR, 3 2B, 1 3B, 27 RBIs, 8 SB)
You might have noticed the NL doesn't use the DH rule, but since we billed this as a "Second-Half All-Star Game roster," let's just put the aforementioned Puig here and hope we catch him on a good night.

Starting pitcher

AL: David Price, Red Sox (5-1, 2.00 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 63 IP, 4.77 K/BB)
Even after yet another Bronx bummer earlier this week, Price is still carrying the best second-half ERA and WHIP among AL starters. He's repositioned himself on the rubber, changed his pitch patterns, adjusted his windup and shaken off a first half in which he posted a 4.42 ERA.

NL: Zack Wheeler, Mets (9-1, 1.68 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 75 IP, 4.87 K/BB)
Were we to play the All-Star Game today, I would hope Jacob deGrom would get the starting nod for the NL (and I would hope the NL All-Stars could give him more run support than the Mets typically do). But looking strictly at post-break performance, Wheeler has the better ERA and has somehow proven that a Mets pitcher can fare well in the win-loss column. Wheeler was shut down this week because of workload concerns, but the changes he's made to shorten his delivery have paid big dividends and provided plenty of hope for his future.

Apologies to the Pirates' Trevor Williams, who has also been outstanding (1.08 ERA in 11 starts), but to date has thrown nine fewer second-half innings than Wheeler and didn't have that fun "Look who's the best pitcher on the Mets!" angle to work with.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Kennedy bolsters case for 2019 rotation spot

Right-hander pitches 7 strong innings in win vs. Detroit
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

DETROIT -- Right-hander Ian Kennedy is making a strong case here in September that he can still be a valuable part of the Royals rotation going forward.

Kennedy turned in his third straight quality start since returning from the disabled list (oblique) by throwing seven strong innings in a 4-3 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park on Friday night.

View Full Game Coverage

DETROIT -- Right-hander Ian Kennedy is making a strong case here in September that he can still be a valuable part of the Royals rotation going forward.

Kennedy turned in his third straight quality start since returning from the disabled list (oblique) by throwing seven strong innings in a 4-3 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park on Friday night.

View Full Game Coverage

Kennedy established his fastball early and held the Royals scoreless for four innings until Ronny Rodriguez led off the Tigers' fifth with a home run to left off a four-seam fastball. It was the first home run Kennedy allowed this month.

Kennedy scattered seven hits and walked none while striking out six. He gave up three runs (two earned).

Video: KC@DET: Mondesi, Herrera combine for 6-4-3 DP

"He's really throwing the ball well," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's what we need finishing the year out."

Added Kennedy, "It's been fun these last few weeks. The offense has kick started and we're scoring. I like what it looks like for next year.

"When you're watching it [while on the disabled list], you just want to get back out there. All our young starters have been throwing great and you just want to get out there and join the party. For the most part, they've all been throwing really well."

Video: KC@DET: Merrifield charges to rob McCann of a hit

The Royals capitalized on some shabby Detroit defense. Adalberto Mondesi reached on an error in the first inning, and then scored all the way from first on a single to left by Alex Gordon, who had three hits. Mondesi rounded third, and when left fielder Christin Stewart lobbed the throw back into second base, Mondesi raced for home and scored without a throw.

"Mondi set up the first run with some great instinctual baserunning," Yost said. "I was watching Mondi come around third and saw [third-base coach Mike Jirschele] hold him up. And then I saw Mondi take a couple of shuffle steps and when they threw into second, he was gone. Great instincts."

Mondesi said he was hoping Stewart would lob a throw to second.

"I tried to read the play," Mondesi said. "I was hoping he would do that, 100 percent. Then I just ran hard and got us a run."

Whit Merrifield singled, stole his league-leading 38th base and scored on Gordon's single in the third to make it 2-0.

Video: KC@DET: Merrifield swipes his 38th base of the season

Alcides Escobar reached on an error by first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fourth and scored on Rosell Herrera's double. Herrera went to third on a throwing error on the play, and then scored on Cam Gallagher's sacrifice fly. In all, three of the Royals' four runs were unearned.

Wily Peralta closed out the game for his 12th save. He made a great play after a leadoff infield hit by Rodriguez. James McCann tried to sacrifice bunt, but Peralta grabbed the ball and fired a bullet to second to nip Rodriguez. Later, Peralta struck out Dawel Lugo and Jim Adduci to seal the win.

Video: KC@DET: Peralta strikes out Adduci to earn 12th save

"He's more athletic than he looks," Yost said. "He bounded off the mound and made a great throw."

Peralta said his fastball to second base was his hardest one all night.

"I just got it in my mind [to throw to second]," Peralta said. "I knew it would be hard. I thought I would just check it and then I thought I had a chance. And I thought I had him." 

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Royals could have scored a third run in the fourth inning. Jorge Bonifacio led off with a walk and went to third when Escobar reached on an error. But Bonifacio wandered too far off third on a safety squeeze and Herrera took a pitch. Bonifacio easily was picked off third.

Video: KC@DET: McCann picks off Bonifacio at third base

"It was Boni being a little too anxious," Yost said. "It was a safety squeeze and Boni has to see it down. He just got too anxious."

UP NEXT
Right-hander Jakob Junis (8-12, 4.42 ERA) will take the mound for the Royals in Game 3 of the series at Comerica Park against the Tigers. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (7-8, 4.41 ERA) will pitch for the Tigers. Junis will be trying to bounce back from a three-inning outing in his last start Sunday against the Twins in which he allowed eight hits, including three home runs, and four runs overall.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Ian Kennedy

KC's 4 HRs not enough as Lopez shelled in loss

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

DETROIT -- This clearly was not the Jorge Lopez the Royals had seen in his last three starts.

Lopez, the rookie right-hander trying to come back from a deep rib bruise sustained in his last start, never found his command Thursday against the Tigers at Comerica Park. Lopez gave up seven runs on eight hits in one-plus inning in the Royals' 11-8 loss. Kansas City has lost five in a row.

View Full Game Coverage

DETROIT -- This clearly was not the Jorge Lopez the Royals had seen in his last three starts.

Lopez, the rookie right-hander trying to come back from a deep rib bruise sustained in his last start, never found his command Thursday against the Tigers at Comerica Park. Lopez gave up seven runs on eight hits in one-plus inning in the Royals' 11-8 loss. Kansas City has lost five in a row.

View Full Game Coverage

"He was flat tonight," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Lopez. "He didn't have much. Just one of those nights where he didn't have it."

Video: KC@DET: Yost on Lopez' tough outing, offense battling

Lopez, who two starts ago became the first Royals pitcher to take a perfect game into the ninth inning, left his last outing on Friday against the Twins in the fourth inning, when he collided with third baseman Hunter Dozier while trying to field a high chopper.

X-rays were negative, and Lopez was diagnosed with a rib contusion. Lopez indicated he recovered well enough early this week to throw a bullpen session and make Thursday's start.

But Lopez gave up two home runs in the first inning, including a two-run shot by Christin Stewart, his first big league home run, on a 1-1 changeup. Lopez then gave up a three-run homer on a 1-0 slider to Stewart in the second.

Video: KC@DET: Stewart, Castellanos go back-to-back in 1st

"I was up [in the zone] since the first pitch I threw," Lopez said. "The plan was to be down the whole game. But I couldn't make pitches. I was behind in the count. I had nothing coming through my hands. I tried to compete. It's hard when you don't have anything. Everything was up and flat."

Lopez admitted he is still feeling the rib bruise, but believes he can make one more start this season.

"It's still there," Lopez said. "I think it's 80 or 90 percent. That's not an excuse for not making pitches. Everything I threw, I felt it there, and it will be there for I don't know how long. Every time I breathe, it bothers me. But I don't think it will get worse.

"I'm going to try to recover the best I can. They say I will wake up one of these days and I won't feel anything."

The Royals' offense knocked out Matthew Boyd in the second as well. Jorge Bonifacio belted a three-run home run off Boyd in the first. In the second, Brian Goodwin ripped a two-run home run, his second long ball for the Royals. 

Video: KC@DET: Goodwin clubs a two-run HR after review

In the fourth, Dozier hit his 10th home run, a two-run shot that went 439 feet, per Statcast™, to center field.

Whit Merrifield and Alcides Escobar each had three hits for the Royals. Adalberto Mondesi also homered, his 11th, in the ninth.

"We were swinging the bats well," Dozier said. "Everyone contributed. But you take your hat off to [the Tigers]. They had good at-bats all night."

Video: KC@DET: Dozier lifts a 2-run jack in the 4th inning

HE SAID IT
"I can't remember the last time Rosie made an error. He's done really, really well at every position we put him." -- Yost, on an error by second baseman Rosell Herrera that led to two unearned runs in the seventh

UP NEXT
Right-hander Ian Kennedy (2-8, 4.73 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals in the second game of the series in Detroit on Friday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Left-hander Francisco Liriano (5-10, 4.54) will pitch for the Tigers. Kennedy earned his first victory since April 7 last Saturday in a win over the Twins, when he gave up one earned run over six innings.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Jorge Lopez

30 best games of '18 -- 1 player from each team

MLB.com @RichardJustice

We went in search of magic. That is, players rising up and doing something they may remember forever. Every team, all 30 of them, has moments like this.

From bunches of home runs to bunches of strikeouts, from household names to players you may not have heard of before, these are players that become part of the fabric of a season.

We went in search of magic. That is, players rising up and doing something they may remember forever. Every team, all 30 of them, has moments like this.

From bunches of home runs to bunches of strikeouts, from household names to players you may not have heard of before, these are players that become part of the fabric of a season.

Here we go: 30 special individual performances for 30 teams:

American League East

Blue Jays: Yangervis Solarte
Date: May 3 vs. CLE
The infielder collected five hits, including a decisive 11th-inning grand slam, in a 13-11 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field. He became the second player in the live-ball era with at least five hits, including an extra-inning grand slam. The other was Jim Rice in 1984.

Orioles: Manny Machado
Date: 
May 11 vs. TB
Machado hit two home runs, including a seventh-inning grand slam, and drove in six as the Orioles beat the Rays, 9-4, at Camden Yards. At 25, he became the youngest Orioles player to hit 150 home runs. "Words can't even describe how exciting that it is, reaching that milestone," he said.

Rays: Ji-Man Choi
Date: 
Sept. 10 vs. CLE
Choi's two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning produced a 6-5 victory over the Indians. In one swing, he kept Tampa Bay's postseason hopes alive and extended its home winning streak to 12 games.

Video: NYY@BOS: Betts his slam, collects four hits vs. Yanks

Red Sox: Mookie Betts
Date: 
April 10 vs. NYY
Betts scored five runs and collected four hits, including two doubles and a grand slam, in a 14-1 victory over the Yankees at Fenway Park.

Yankees: Luis Severino
Date:
May 2 at HOU
Severino struck out 10 Astros in the first complete game of his career, a 4-0 victory at Minute Maid Park. "I wouldn't want to be in the box facing him," teammate Giancarlo Stanton said. "He's going to pound the zone at 100 mph, and if you look on time for that, you're going to get that 90-mph slider. It's exactly what we needed tonight and another par-for-the-course outing for him."

AL CENTRAL

Video: Must C Clutch: Lindor homers twice to hold off Twins

Indians: Francisco Lindor
Date:
May 31 at MIN
Lindor had two doubles, two homers and four RBIs in a 9-8 win over the Twins at Target Field. He joined Adrian Beltre, Jim Edmonds and Rafael Palmeiro as the only players since 1908 to have two such games in the same season.

Royals: Jorge Lopez
Date:
Sept. 8 at MIN
Lopez took a perfect game into the ninth inning in the seventh start of his career. The 25-year-old right-hander walked the leadoff hitter in the ninth, then allowed a hit before departing in what would be a 4-1 win over the Twins at Target Field.

Tigers: Nicholas Castellanos
Date:
Aug. 13 vs. CWS
Castellanos went 5-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs in a 9-5 victory over the White Sox. Among the hits was a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning off Jeanmar Gomez.

Twins: Eddie Rosario
Date:
June 3 vs. CLE
With his father sitting a few feet from home plate, Eddie Rosario homered three times, including a two-run walk-off shot that gave the Twins a 7-5 victory over the Indians at Target Field. "It was Rosie's day," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I've seen a lot of good days in the big leagues. But I don't know if I've seen one that was more dramatic than that as far as the first inning all the way through the end."

White Sox: Matt Davidson
Date: 
March 29 at KC
Davidson became the fourth player to hit three home runs on Opening Day as the White Sox rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat the Royals, 14-7, at Kauffman Stadium. "What an incredible day he had," teammate James Shields said. "Really happy for him. He works his butt off every day, and to have a day like that is pretty special."

AL WEST

Video: LAA@NYY: Trout goes 5-for-5 with career-high 4 XBHs

Angels: Mike Trout
Date:
May 26 at NYY
Trout had a home run, three doubles and an infield single in an 11-4 victory at Yankee Stadium. "He's an unbelievable player and I think he showed that tonight," Yankees starter Sonny Gray said. "He put some good swings on the ball and in the fourth, he hit that homer. That was ultimately the icing on the cake for me."

Astros: Gerrit Cole
Date:
 May 4 at ARI
Cole struck out 16 D-backs in a one-hit complete game, an 8-0 victory at Chase Field. He finished it with a 99-mph fastball to strike out Jarrod Dyson. "Wow," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "It's hard to describe. It's an incredible display of pitching."

Athletics: Sean Manaea
Date:
April 21 vs. BOS
Manaea threw the seventh no-hitter in Oakland A's history in a 3-0 victory over the Red Sox at the Coliseum. "I've caught a lot of great pitchers in this game," A's catcher Jonathan Lucroy said, "and that was the most well-pitched, well-executed game I've ever had behind the plate."

Video: Paxton tosses sixth no-hitter in Mariners history

Mariners: James Paxton
Date:
May 8 at TOR
Paxton returned to his native Canada to no-hit the Blue Jays, 5-0, at Rogers Centre. It was the first complete game of his career. "To have it happen in Canada. What are the odds?" Paxton said. "Just very special."

Rangers: Rougned Odor
Date:
July 28 at HOU
Odor hit two home runs and had a double and two singles in a 7-3 victory at Minute Maid Park. "We talked about finding his swagger, getting his swagger back, getting that confidence back," then-Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Know that you're a really good player and just go show it and stay focused on every single pitch."

NL EAST

Video: Must C Classic: Acuna's 2 homers make history

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
Date:
Aug. 14 vs. MIA
Acuna homered twice and added a single in a 10-6 victory over the Marlins at SunTrust Park. The 20-year-old hit the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first inning to become the youngest player ever to homer in five consecutive games. "He's the best player I've ever seen," Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte said. "He's just unbelievable."

Marlins: Jose Urena
Date:
Aug. 19 at WSH
Urena retired the final 16 Nationals in a complete-game 12-1 victory at Nationals Park. "You can just see the fire in his eyes every time he's out there," Marlins shortstop JT Riddle said.

Video: NYM@CHC: deGrom K's 10, notches 2 hits vs. Cubs

Mets: Jacob deGrom
Date:
Aug. 28 at CHC
deGrom struck out 10 Cubs and allowed one run in an eight-inning masterpiece of a loss at Wrigley Field. "The guy is as advertised," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's different. That's another level of stuff."

Nationals: Max Scherzer
Date:
May 6 vs. PHI
Scherzer struck out 15 Phillies in 6 1/3 innings in a 5-4 victory at Nationals Park. He was the first pitcher in history to get 15 strikeouts in 6 1/3 (or fewer) innings. "He doesn't slow," Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. "I watch him in the gym. I watch him watch video. His mind is constantly going and constantly learning."

Phillies: Odubel Herrera
Date:
June 22 at WSH
Herrera scored four runs and had four hits, including a homer, in a 12-2 victory at Nationals Park. "It's simply incredible what he can do," teammate Zach Eflin said. "The thing with Odubel is that he can shake off anything at any given time. He can look like he's struggling and next pitch he sends it 440 feet."

NL CENTRAL

Video: MIL@CIN: Yelich records cycle with 6 hits, shows arm

Brewers: Christian Yelich
Date:
Aug. 29 at CIN
Yelich hit for the cycle -- the first of two Yelich cycles this season -- and had six hits in all in a 13-12, 10-inning victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park. "I've never seen a game like that," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He's coming up there and you're thinking he can't do it again, and he does it again."

Cardinals: Matt Carpenter
Date:
July 20 at CHC
Carpenter became the second player in MLB history to hit three homers and two doubles in a game. He did it all in in six innings in an 18-5 victory at Wrigley Field. "I'm having a hard time coming up with words to describe a day like this," Carpenter said.

Cubs: David Bote
Date:
Aug. 12 vs. WSH
Bote delivered a pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning at Wrigley Field to turn a 3-0 loss into a 4-3, walk-off victory over the Nationals. He became the first Cubs player to hit a pinch-hit walk-off grand slam since Earl Averill in 1959.

Pirates: Jameson Taillon
Date:
April 8 vs. CIN
Taillon tossed a one-hitter and drove in Pittsburgh's first run in a 5-0 victory over over the Reds at PNC Park. It was Pittsburgh's first complete-game one-hitter since A.J. Burnett shut out the Cubs in 2012. "This guy, he's special," Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli said.

Reds: Scooter Gennett
Date:
May 26 at COL
Gennett collected five hits -- a first-inning home run and four singles -- and was part of a game-ending defensive play to close out a 6-5 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field.

NL WEST

D-Backs: A.J. Pollock
Date:
April 30 vs. LAD
Pollock hit three home runs in an 8-5 win at Chase Field. "I'm seeing the ball pretty well right now," he said. "I don't know. Some days it just works."

Video: Must C Classic: Puig crushes 3 homers vs. Cardinals

Dodgers: Yasiel Puig
Date:
Sept. 15 at STL
Puig launched three home runs and drove in seven runs in a 17-4 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Puig explained his power surge as only he can: He said the grasshoppers that have swarmed Busch Stadium have gotten him going. He said he considered eating one or two. Manager Dave Roberts had a better explanation. "He's focused and he understands the importance of every pitch," he said. "And when he does that, he's as good as anybody in baseball."

Giants: Andrew McCutchen
Date:
April 7 vs. LAD
McCutchen went 6-for-7 with four RBIs, including a walk-off home run, in a 14-inning, 7-5 victory over the Dodgers at AT&T Park. Giants manager Bruce Bochy called the victory "epic" and added, "It's one of those Giants-Dodgers games that will be talked about."

Padres: Christian Villanueva
Date:
April 3 vs. COL
Villanueva belted three home runs in his 14th career game in an 8-4 victory over the Rockies at Petco Park. "I have a lot of dreams, I have a lot of goals, and I think, little by little, I'm starting to reach them," Villanueva said.

Rockies: DJ LeMahieu
Date:
June 28 at SF
LeMahieu's go-ahead home run at AT&T Park probably did more than give the Rockies a 9-8 victory. It came at a time when they were in fourth place in the NL West and had fallen eight games off the pace. There was speculation they might sell at the Trade Deadline. The Rockies won 44 of their next 69 games. Only the Cubs did better in that time.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Merrifield aims to lead AL in hits, steals in '18

Royals super-utility man currently among leaders in both categories
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

DETROIT -- Royals super-utility man Whit Merrifield has a chance to lead the American League in two offensive categories this season -- stolen bases and hits.

Merrifield, who led the AL in steals last year, is poised to do so again. After stealing his 37th bag in the Royals' 11-8 loss to Detroit on Thursday, Merrifield is two ahead of Tampa Bay's Mallex Smith.

View Full Game Coverage

DETROIT -- Royals super-utility man Whit Merrifield has a chance to lead the American League in two offensive categories this season -- stolen bases and hits.

Merrifield, who led the AL in steals last year, is poised to do so again. After stealing his 37th bag in the Royals' 11-8 loss to Detroit on Thursday, Merrifield is two ahead of Tampa Bay's Mallex Smith.

View Full Game Coverage

That much Merrifield knew. But he didn't know how close he is to being the AL leader in hits. With 180, Merrifield trails Boston's J.D. Martinez by one.

"I actually saw the hits total for the first time on the scoreboard in Pittsburgh a couple days ago," Merrifield said. "They showed the numbers. I knew I was kind of close to 200 hits, but I didn't know I was second to J.D. Then, of course, J.D. went out and got three hits that night."

Asked which category Merrifield would enjoy leading the most, he had to pause to think.

"Maybe at this point the hits would be [more] cool, because I had the stolen-base [title] last year," Merrifield said. "But at the same time, I know this might be my last year to win the stolen-base title."

Video: MIN@KC: Merrifield lines RBI single to right-center

Merrifield was referring to teammate Adalberto Mondesi, who has 26 steals in 65 games this season and appears to be capable of swiping 70-80 bases in a full season.

Merrifield has dreamed of reaching 200 hits in a season. It would take a sizzling finish to get there in 2018.

"That was a goal of mine at the beginning of the year," Merrifield said. "Getting 200 hits is still a milestone for a player like me. But really got some work to do there. Maybe it won't happen this year, but now I think I at least know it's attainable. That would definitely be something to work for."

And telling his grandchildren some day that he beat out Martinez in an offensive category would be special, Merrifield said.

"Not bad for a utility man," Merrifield said with a smile. "Any time I can go out and prove people wrong, it's always fun."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Whit Merrifield

Youth is served: Royals' best rookie this season

MLB.com

Each year, a new group of rookies sets out to make a mark in the Major Leagues, and in 2018, many of these young players have made history with their performances. They're fueling clubs during postseason races, as well as giving fans a glimpse of what's to come in the years ahead.

With the aid of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's a look at each team's best rookie this season:

Each year, a new group of rookies sets out to make a mark in the Major Leagues, and in 2018, many of these young players have made history with their performances. They're fueling clubs during postseason races, as well as giving fans a glimpse of what's to come in the years ahead.

With the aid of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's a look at each team's best rookie this season:

Video: Callis looks at rookies' long-term futures

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Ryan Borucki
Borucki has opened his Major League career with quality starts in 10 of his first 15 outings. Even though Borucki did not make his debut until the end of June, he has the third-most starts of at least six innings and two runs or fewer among Major League rookies. Only San Francisco's Dereck Rodriguez has registered more of those starts this season. Borucki appears to be a future cornerstone of the Blue Jays' rotation and his rookie campaign has been an overwhelming success with a 3.86 ERA.

Orioles: Cedric Mullins
It's been a tough year for Baltimore, but Mullins has given O's fans a glimmer of hope in the past two months. Since becoming the first Oriole to record three hits in his debut, the center fielder -- who moved Adam Jones over to right -- has showcased his range and speed and has become a table-setter for a lineup that sorely needs more dynamic players.

Rays: Joey Wendle
Tampa Bay acquired Wendle from Oakland during the Winter Meetings -- the same day the Yankees finalized their acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton. Many found humor in how the Rays "answered" their division foe's acquisition. Wendle has hardly been a joke, though. He's played second base, third base, shortstop, right field and left field. While Wendle's glove has been dazzling as billed, particularly at second, his bat has been equally so. He always seems to be in the middle of rallies. Wendle has above-average speed and runs out every ball, and he's shown decent power. He has been a big reason for Tampa Bay's marked improvement this season.

Red Sox: Brian Johnson
Out of options, Johnson had no option but to become a dependable contributor for the Red Sox this season, and that's exactly what he has done. Though he has unspectacular numbers (4-4, 4.24 ERA), Johnson has been one of the most important members of the pitching staff for manager Alex Cora because of his ability to move seamlessly between the bullpen and starting rotation, and often doing both roles within days of each other. In 12 starts, Johnson is 4-2 with a 4.06 ERA. He could have a few more wins, but he was taken out just shy of five innings numerous times.

Yankees: Miguel Andujar
Nothing was handed to Andujar, who made the most of an early-season opportunity when Brandon Drury landed on the disabled list to grab hold of the third-base job. Andujar's calling card is his bat, and he quickly cemented a reputation as an extra-base hit machine, tallying the third-most extra-base hits by a rookie in Yankees history behind Joe DiMaggio (88) and Aaron Judge (79). The AL Rookie of the Month in June and August, Andujar has worked to polish his defense. With Gleyber Torres also enjoying a strong season, the Yanks have two legitimate choices to follow Judge as the AL Rookie of the Year Award winner.

Video: BOS@NYY: Andujar opens scoring with a solo HR in 2nd

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Shane Bieber
Indians manager Terry Francona jokes that Chris Antonetti, the team's president of baseball operations, did not bring Bieber to MLB camp in the spring because the manager would not have let the pitcher return to the Minors. Bieber, 23, cruised through Double-A and Triple-A, posting a 1.47 ERA with 77 strikeouts vs. seven walks in 79 2/3 innings. When the back of Cleveland's rotation ran into some issues, Bieber rose to the big leagues. He debuted in late May and returned for good in June. The rookie has enjoyed a promising campaign and figures to be a part of the Tribe's postseason pitching staff.

Royals: Brad Keller
Keller, a right-hander, was an absolute steal in the Rule 5 Draft. He started the season in the bullpen and eventually graduated to the rotation, where he has been arguably the Royals' best starter and certainly a top-of-the-rotation guy moving forward. Opposing hitters throughout the season have called facing Keller an "uncomfortable at-bat." His four-seam fastball, which hovers around 93-95 mph, moves like a cutter, and he has worked to develop an effective slider and changeup. During a recent six-game stretch, Keller went 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA, permitting just a .645 OPS. While Keller, 23, likely won't win the AL Rookie of the Year Award -- especially with Shohei Ohtani, Torres and Andujar in the running -- he at least deserves some consideration. Keller is a lock for the rotation in 2019.

Tigers: Niko Goodrum
The Tigers took a chance on the former Twins second-round pick, extending a Spring Training invite in the hopes that his versatility and athleticism would help him stick while learning on the job in the big leagues. Much to their surprise, Goodrum has become essentially an everyday player and a cog in Detroit's lineup, with a .741 OPS that ranks second on the team to Nicholas Castellanos. He has made a start at every defensive position except center field, catcher and pitcher.

Twins: Jake Cave
The Twins took a chance on Cave in March, acquiring him from the Yankees for Minor League right-hander Luis Gil, and Cave has responded with a strong rookie season. The 25-year-old wasn't expected to play much this season, but with center fielder Byron Buxton out most of the year because of injuries and offensive inconsistency, the left-handed-hitting Cave has filled in nicely. He's capable of playing all three outfield positions and has shown some power offensively, hitting .257/.300/.458 with 11 homers and 13 doubles through his first 82 career games.

White Sox: Daniel Palka
The White Sox picked up the left-handed slugger off waivers from the Twins on Nov. 3, 2017. While he didn't break camp with the team, Palka not only leads the White Sox in home runs, but also set a single-season franchise record for most homers from a left-handed-hitting rookie. Palka has a knack for the big hit, having knocked out six home runs in the ninth inning. Left-handed reliever Jace Fry made a solid late-inning rookie impression, but Palka provided the biggest power boost.

Video: CWS@CLE: Palka breaks scoreless tie with HR to center

AL WEST

Angels: Shohei Ohtani
A rocky Spring Training created some questions about how Ohtani's talent would translate to the Majors, but he quickly erased those doubts once the regular season began. For two months, he dazzled as a two-way phenom for the Angels, emerging as a dominant right-handed pitcher with a triple-digit fastball and devastating splitter and an impact left-handed bat with impressive raw power. An elbow injury derailed his magical season and led to a Tommy John surgery recommendation earlier this month, but it hasn't prevented Ohtani from continuing to hit. He is the first player to log 10 pitching appearances and hit 20 home runs in a season since Babe Ruth in 1919, making him a front-runner for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

Video: SEA@LAA: Ohtani goes back-to-back with Trout for 20th

Astros: Max Stassi
Stassi made his Major League debut during the Astros' 111-loss season of 2013, and he has bounced between the big leagues and Triple-A each season since while maintaining his rookie status. He's spent most of this year as Houston's backup catcher to Brian McCann, and he is hitting .233 with eight homers and 27 RBIs through 85 games. Stassi was on pace to catch more games than McCann, who missed a chunk of time with knee surgery, and Martin Maldonado, who was acquired in a July trade and cost Stassi significant playing time down the stretch.

Athletics: Lou Trivino
Trivino has been an absolute godsend for what's become a deep and dangerous Oakland bullpen, arriving in late April and quickly taking over setup duties behind All-Star closer Blake Treinen with a high-90s fastball and a mid-90s cutter -- a devastating duo. The flamethrowing right-hander singlehandedly bridged the gap for much of the first half before the midseason arrivals of Jeurys Familia, Shawn Kelley and Fernando Rodney, working multiple innings more times than not. Center fielder Ramon Laureano, who has been superb on both sides of the ball since his August promotion, also deserves consideration.

Mariners: Daniel Vogelbach
The 25-year-old first baseman made the Opening Day roster after a huge spring, then was sent down when he struggled at the plate in April. But after putting up good numbers again in Triple-A, Vogelbach has flashed his power potential with a couple of big home runs this week as a September callup, including a game-winning pinch-hit grand slam to beat the Astros on Monday.

Rangers: Ronald Guzman
This is a tossup between Guzman and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who did a terrific job in a utility role that included time at catcher. But Guzman has emerged as the Rangers' first baseman of the future by showing power, run production and superb defensive ability. There is still more improvement and development needed, but Guzman is among the AL rookie leaders in home runs and RBIs. His emergence also allowed Joey Gallo to take over in left field, which had been a troubled spot for Texas.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Video: STL@ATL: Acuna Jr. belts a solo smash for his 26th HR

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
Acuna has lived up to his top prospect status, as he spent the season's second half producing numbers baseball has seldom seen from a player who has not yet turned 21 years old. He introduced himself to the Majors in April and then suffered a late-May knee injury that sidelined him for a month. But when Acuna was moved to the top of Atlanta's lineup immediately after the All-Star break, the 20-year-old outfielder suddenly became one of the game's top catalysts and power threats. He became a strong NL Rookie of the Year Award candidate and likely earned some down-ballot NL MVP Award consideration.

Marlins: Brian Anderson
Not only has Anderson been the Marlins' top rookie in 2018, he has established himself as one of the young faces of the franchise. He's also built a case to be a top-five finisher in the NL Rookie of the Year Award balloting. On the big league roster from wire to wire, Anderson has played third base and right field. He will lead all NL rookies in games played and hits.

Mets: Jeff McNeil
McNeil was never a top prospect, and when he arrived in the big leagues, he first drew attention for his unusual knobless bat. But since he took over at second base following the Asdrubal Cabrera trade, he's been a revelation at the plate, commanding attention for his outstanding contact ability and all-around hitting prowess. McNeil hasn't slowed down, either -- he leads all rookies in hitting since his July 24 debut, including 17 multihit games in 54 contests, and is second among all players in triples in that span, with five.

Nationals: Juan Soto
Soto wasn't even the Nats' most heralded prospect coming into the year -- that was Victor Robles. But he's hit at an almost unprecedented level for his age, putting himself on lists alongside names like Griffey and Harper. Soto's combination of plate discipline and power marks him as a future star. He's not only a top NL Rookie of the Year Award candidate; he might even get some down-ballot consideration in the crowded NL MVP Award field.

Video: Must C Classic: Soto youngest to swipe 3 bags in game

Phillies: Seranthony Dominguez
One of the reasons the Phillies held first place in the NL East as late as Aug. 12 is Dominguez, who joined Philadelphia's bullpen in May. He posted a 1.85 ERA in 34 appearances through Aug. 3, striking out 49 and walking 13 in 39 innings, becoming manager Gabe Kapler's most trusted weapon with the game on the line. Dominguez struggled down the stretch as the former starter adjusted to a new role, but there is no question NL East batters are not looking forward to facing him in the future.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Freddy Peralta
Taylor Williams pitched in more games and Corbin Burnes is playing the most significant role among Brewers rookies down the stretch, but in terms of aggregate value this season, Peralta gets the nod. By making 14 starts, including a history-making 13-strikeout Major League debut on Mother's Day, Peralta helped hold together a starting rotation that was a quiet strength for much of the year despite Jimmy Nelson's year-long absence and significant disabled list time for Zach Davies, Wade Miley and others. Among Major League starters who pitched at least 70 innings, only Chris Sale had a lower opponents' average than Peralta.

Cardinals: Jack Flaherty
With respect to Harrison Bader (3.5 fWAR), Jordan Hicks (105 mph fastball) and Yairo Munoz (.275 average), it's Flaherty who has emerged as the star of St. Louis' loaded rookie crop -- and the Cardinals' new ace. Premature? Not if you consider how the on-the-playoff-bubble Cards manipulated their rotation so Flaherty will be on turn to start their most important game of the year, whether that's the NL Wild Card Game or a must-win during the season's final series. The 22-year-old has earned the responsibility: He ranks among the NL rookie starter leaders in strikeouts (first), starts (second), innings (second), ERA (fourth), wins (first), fWAR (second) and WHIP (third).

Cubs: David Bote
An 18th-round Draft pick in 2012, Bote was pressed into duty when Kris Bryant was injured and has delivered in the clutch. On July 26 against the D-backs, he smacked a game-tying two-run homer with one out in the ninth. On Aug. 12 against the Nationals, Bote delivered a pinch-hit walk-off grand slam in the ninth. That blast helped teach people how to pronounce his last name (it's bow-tee). He hit another walk-off homer on Aug. 24 against the Reds and is the first Cub since Bryant in 2015 with two walk-off homers in one season. Bote has helped support the Cubs' motto to be versatile, starting at second, third, shortstop and in the outfield.

Video: David Bote's heroics vs. the Nationals this season

Pirates: Richard Rodriguez
Far from a household name, the 28-year-old rookie has become a vital part of Pittsburgh's bullpen in his first extended Major League opportunity. Signed as a Minor League free agent, Rodriguez entered the week with a 2.57 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in 63 innings over 56 appearances. Rodriguez doesn't possess overwhelming stuff, but he's getting the job done with a 92.9-mph four-seam fastball he throws about 75 percent of the time plus a swing-and-miss slider.

Reds: Jesse Winker
Winker gets the nod despite having his season cut in half by injury. After a slow start, he found his stroke and some power. Overall, Winker batted .299/.405/.431 in 89 games but was slashing .362/.465/.554 in June and July before his year was halted by right shoulder surgery in his non-throwing arm to repair an injury that nagged him even in the Minors. Expected to be fully recovered by Spring Training, the 25-year-old with great plate discipline could be an even bigger offensive threat when fully healthy.

NL WEST

D-backs: Yoshihisa Hirano
While Hirano is technically a rookie as far as Major League Baseball is concerned, he certainly was not inexperienced coming into this season after spending 11 seasons pitching in Japan. The D-backs signed him to a two-year contract during the offseason, and he has more than met their expectations. Used primarily in a setup role through the first five months of the season, Hirano's effectiveness -- along with his unflappable makeup -- eventually got him moved into the de facto closer's role in September.

Dodgers: Walker Buehler
In any year not involving Acuna or Soto, the Dodgers' 24-year-old sensation would likely have been a favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year Award. Since his April recall from the Minor Leagues, Buehler was a steady presence through Clayton Kershaw's extended absence and has since cemented himself beside Los Angeles' ace at the top of the rotation, allowing two or fewer runs in 17 of his 21 starts. With the Dodgers embroiled in a tight divisional race, he has a 1.62 ERA since the start of August, and with his season mark at 2.74, he could become Los Angeles' first rookie starter to post an ERA under 3.00 with at least 20 starts since Hideo Nomo in 1995.

Video: COL@LAD: Buehler K's career-high 12 over 6 frames

Giants: Dereck Rodriguez
The son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez is steadily establishing his own identity as a ballplayer as well as his candidacy for a respectable finish in the NL Rookie of the Year Award balloting. The 26-year-old, who converted to pitching from playing the outfield, demonstrated his consistency by pitching at least six innings and allowing two or fewer runs in nine consecutive starts. Despite their losing record overall, the Giants are 9-8 when Rodriguez starts. What makes Rodriguez's story even more remarkable is that he did not pitch above Double-A in Minnesota's farm system last year. San Francisco signed him as a Minor League free agent last November.

Padres: Franmil Reyes
Reyes was left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft last December after leading all Padres Minor Leaguers in home runs in 2017. Thankfully for San Diego, he went unselected. Reyes' power is otherworldly, and he's made huge strides with his approach at the plate. The hulking 6-foot-5, 275-pounder is still a liability defensively. But he's grown into a legit middle-of-the-order game-changer.

Rockies: Ryan McMahon
Drafted as a third baseman but blocked at the hot corner by one Nolan Arenado, the 23-year-old McMahon made the Opening Day roster with eyes on the starting first-base job, but he was beat out by veteran Ian Desmond. After struggles at the plate and two extended Minor League stints, McMahon's .330 on-base percentage since his July 29 recall is fourth among Rockies. He has also shown a penchant for clutch homers -- four of his five 2018 long balls have come late in close games with Colorado trailing, including a memorable three-run walk-off shot against the Dodgers on Aug. 11.