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Royals seeking climb to .500 on monthly basis

@FlannyMLB
May 15, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- Both Royals general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost have made a point in recent days to lay out the team’s mission for the next three months: Crawl back to .500. The Royals entered Wednesday night’s game against the Rangers at 15-27, 12 games under .500.

KANSAS CITY -- Both Royals general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost have made a point in recent days to lay out the team’s mission for the next three months: Crawl back to .500.

The Royals entered Wednesday night’s game against the Rangers at 15-27, 12 games under .500.

The math is easy, both Moore and Yost said: Finish four games over .500 in each month of May, June and July, and they’re back to .500.

“Everybody has to have a goal, and everybody has to have a team goal to shoot for,” Yost said. “Our first month [March], we were one over .500 (2-1). In April, we were horrible, 7-19. So then we were 11 games under. Now we’re 6-7 this month and we’re 12 games under.

“So if we get to four games over for the month of May, four games over in June and four over in July, we’re back to .500 in August. It’s not inconceivable. A lot of good things have to happen, like we have to stop walking guys.

“But now with [No. 8 prospect Nicky Lopez] in the lineup, it lengthens the lineup. We need to get [Ryan O'Hearn] going. But finally our bullpen has settled down.”

Moore suggested a similar month-by-month path to .500 on Saturday, and he even talked of pursuing the second American League Wild Card.

“It’s realistic hope,” Yost said. “It’s not B.S. hope. Sometimes it’s B.S. hope and you talk yourself into it. But this is achievable.

“You can’t think about running off long winning streaks because it gets too daunting. So you just think little -- four games [over] a month at a time.”

The new firemen
As the bullpen has settled in, Yost has found his two best firemen -- right-hander Scott Barlow and left-hander Jake Diekman.

Barlow has allowed only three of 15 inherited runners to score. Diekman’s ratio is four-of-15.

“You try to set hard and fast roles for these guys, but I don’t have five closers like I once did,” Yost said. “But right now, Barlow and Diekman are doing a phenomenal job in a firearm’s role.

“If everything was perfect, we’d go Barlow in the seventh, Diekman in the eighth and Ian Kennedy in the ninth. But how often are things perfect?”

In recent years, Luke Hochevar and Peter Moylan assumed those firemen roles.

“It is extremely hard,” Yost said. “Barlow has come in with the bases loaded and nobody out, and not allowed a run. He came in [Tuesday] night with second and third and nobody out, and nobody scored. Just a phenomenal job. No matter what the score is, if you just give up one run, it’s phenomenal. If you give up none, what’s the word better than phenomenal?”

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