Despite loss, young Royals gain experience
Montgomery, Dozier, bullpen will be tested against playoff contenders
MIAMI -- With three weeks remaining in the regular season, some of the young Royals are heading into uncharted territory as part of their development.
Though the Royals dropped Sunday’s finale, 9-0, to the Marlins at Marlins Park, they have won three consecutive series for the first time all season.
The caveat? They have come at the expense of rebuilding Baltimore, Detroit and Miami -- ballclubs Kansas City matches up better against, according to Royals manager Ned Yost.
Over the final 18 games, the Royals will play 15 versus teams vying for the postseason.
“It's not a measuring stick, no,” Yost said. “I just think all this is just experience for these kids to build upon going into next year. I don't think it's any type of measuring stick whatsoever right now.”
Below are players who gained more experience over the weekend series at Marlins Park and should benefit from it:
Though Montgomery recorded the final out of the 2016 World Series, he is being given the chance to pitch out of the rotation on a consistent basis for the first time since '18. That is a learning curve in and of itself.
Montgomery allowed five runs on eight hits over four innings -- his shortest start since his debut with the Royals on July 19, while Marlins All-Star Sandy Alcantara pitched a shutout.
After limiting the damage to a solo homer in the first with an inning-ending double play, Montgomery couldn’t do the same following a pair of infield hits in a four-run fourth.
“I feel like I've thrown the ball pretty well as of late,” said Montgomery, who entered with a 2.84 ERA in his last eight starts. “You come on the road, it's a getaway day going up against a guy that's really good. I think you can't really worry about what the other guy's doing, you've got to kind of pitch your game. ... That's baseball. Those things happen, so it's got to be short memory. Understand I did some things [well] today and couple little mistakes -- probably more mental mistakes, pitch selection. I've been able to field my position. Those things cost me today.”
Dozier, who collected one of the Royals' four hits on Sunday, continues to impress in 2019 after working through growing pains upon his second callup in May '18 (.229/.278/.395 slash line with .673 OPS).
After knocking his 25th homer of the season in Friday's win, Dozier came through with a two-strike run-scoring single to right field during Saturday's decisive six-run seventh inning.
Over the past five games, Dozier is 11-for-18 (.611) as a middle-of-the-order threat.
"I expect that and more," Yost said. "Two years ago, he had fantastic numbers in Triple-A. You can project by the time he gets to the big leagues. He's a smart kid that somewhere down the way he's going to be a very productive offensive player. He just needed time to get himself established. He's made great adjustments this year. ... He just consistently hits the ball hard."
Kyle Zimmer and Eric Skoglund
Zimmer, who hadn’t pitched since Aug. 30 during his third stint in the Majors this season, walked four of the eight batters he faced in the fifth inning, including three in a row with two outs. He surrendered two runs, as the deficit ballooned to seven.
Relegated to the bullpen after struggling in two starts, Skoglund didn't fare much better in his first relief outing of the season.
The Marlins tallied back-to-back doubles off Skoglund, who spent time on the restricted list in 2019, to open the sixth. After recording two straight outs, he gave up an RBI hit to Harold Ramirez.
“I didn't see much from him or Zimmer,” Yost said. “The inability to command the ball is what we're trying to get them to do. Things that we're working on in the 'pen with them is refining your mechanics so that you can duplicate those mechanics so that you can throw more strikes.”
After doubling twice and driving in a game-high three runs in Saturday’s victory, McBroom went hitless in three at-bats in Sunday’s defeat.
The Royals acquired the 27-year-old McBroom last weekend from the Yankees, and they are curious to see what they have in the outfielder, who posted big numbers at Triple-A this season. Sunday marked the first time in a small sample size that he hadn’t collected a hit in a start for Kansas City.
"It's been so exciting, truly a dream come true," McBroom said on Saturday. "Coming to a new ballclub, making my Major League debut, the nerves were high, obviously. You want to come in and impress, but you don't want to worry about impressing. You kind of want to play the game. That's how I've taken it so far. Just taking it like I'm just playing a regular baseball game and going about my business. It's been a great time so far."