Royals, Mets may not make playoffs to defend pennants
Aug. 15, 2016
The New York Mets and Kansas City Royals opened the season against each other back in April in a rematch from last year's World Series.
It's been mostly downhill from there.
Beset by injuries and a general sense of malaise, the Royals and Mets would both miss the playoffs if the season ended now. Kansas City (57-60) is 7 ½ games behind the second wild card in the AL, and the Mets (59-58) are 2 ½ back in the NL.
The last time both pennant winners from the previous season failed to make the playoffs was in 2007, when the Tigers and Cardinals fell short. The last time both finished below .500 was in 1994 (Blue Jays and Phillies) — and in a non-strike year the last time was 1986 (Royals and Cardinals).
While the Royals are facing an uphill climb, the Mets are still in the thick of the race for a wild card, but it's been an ugly August for New York, which now trails St. Louis, Miami and Pittsburgh in the postseason race.
With Matt Harvey, Yoenis Cespedes, David Wright and Lucas Duda all on the disabled list, New York's lineup looks nothing like it did during the run through last year's postseason.
The Royals can relate, with Mike Moustakas and Wade Davis both currently on the DL. Kansas City also had to deal with earlier injuries to Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain.
The Mets did get Jose Reyes back from the DL over the weekend, and Cespedes is expected back soon.
"We're scratching and clawing right now, but we know that there's some reinforcements on the way," second baseman Neil Walker said.
Here are a few other developments from around baseball:
The Chicago Cubs are back on pace for over 100 wins after an 11-game winning streak that lasted until Saturday. The Cubs had a 5-15 stretch shortly before the All-Star break, which took some of the luster off their terrific start — but after this recent surge, Chicago is 12 games ahead of second-place St. Louis in the NL Central.
The Cleveland Indians have stolen an AL-best 95 bases this season, which is nine more than they had all of last year. The Indians are also stealing at an 81-percent clip. Rajai Davis (31 for 35), Jose Ramirez (18 for 23), Francisco Lindor (15 for 20) and Jason Kipnis (11 for 14) are all threats on the bases.
Cleveland tied a team record with eight steals Friday night in a win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Alex Rodriguez's departure from the New York Yankees doesn't change much from a fantasy perspective — he wasn't playing a lot anyway. But if the youth movement is underway now, it certainly looked promising Saturday, when New York's Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge each homered in his first major league at-bat — in back-to-back plate appearances.
Judge is the more highly touted prospect — he was ranked No. 42 on Baseball America's midseason list and No. 18 by Baseball Prospectus at the beginning of the season. But it's hard to ignore what Austin did at Triple-A this year, hitting .323 with 13 homers in only 57 games.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Brandon Crawford had seven hits in San Francisco's 14-inning win over Miami on Monday. Crawford became the first major leaguer with seven hits in a game since Pittsburgh's Rennie Stennett in 1975. Remarkably, Crawford only scored one run Monday despite all those times on base. The next three hitters in the batting order were a combined 2 for 15, and the pitcher's spot was next after them.
Honorable mention goes to the three-homer games by Colorado's Charlie Blackmon and Boston's Mookie Betts later in the week.
AP Baseball Writer Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.