After a road trip that culminated with a 1-0 interleague loss in Pittsburgh, the Astros return home and get back to American League rules for the next eight games. The homestand starts tonight with the first game of a 3-game series against the Kansas City Royals. Kings of Kaufmann staff writer Mike Vamosi was kind enough to climb the hill and give us the scoop on the Royals. Here’s my Q & A session with Mike.
CTH: The Royals had a big winning streak in Spring Training and have gotten off to a decent start. Can they stay in the hunt for a playoff spot all year long?
Mike: Yes. But the pitching will need to continue while the offense must wake up and be somewhat consistent. K.C. has the pieces but can’t get in a lull that gets them too far behind Detroit and Cleveland.
CTH: What areas would you expect Dayton Moore to address at the trade deadline if the Royals are still in contention?
Miguel Tejada returns to Minute Maid Park wearing a Royals uniform. (Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports)
CTH: I was surprised to see that our old friend Miguel Tejada was back in the majors but he has posted some pretty good numbers so far this season. What role can Astros fans expect to see him in this week when the Royals come to Minute Maid Park?
Mike: Pinch hitting duty is what you can expect if he makes an appearance. Many were surprised that Tejada made the roster only because he’s a veteran player. Most Royals fans weren’t wild about that decision. Tejada might get a start with Moustakas and the second base situation depending on how Yost wants his lineup to look.
CTH: Former Astros and current Royals pitcher Felipe Paulino had Tommy John surgery last July. What’s the latest on his rehab and how do you expect him to be utilized when he returns?
Mike: Paulino is throwing again and seems like he is on schedule to return to the team by July. The addition of Paulino and Danny Duffy strengthens what’s been a good staff so far near the trade deadline. Luckily the staff has been good enough that his workmanlike mentality hasn’t been needed yet.
CTH: I saw in your bio that you spent some time in Corpus Christi. Did you make it to many Hooks games and if so, which players impressed you?
Mike: Yes, spent two years in Corpus Christi and saw a handful of Hooks games. Jordan Lyles, Bud Norris and J.D. Martinez were guys that I loved watching and when they got the call I figured the reset had been pushed. You could see the talent of these guys and they’ve seemed to slowly get into the big league flow.
Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie (Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports)
CTH: Lastly, who’s hot for the Royals right now and who’s not?
Mike: Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas need to step it up. Moustakas and Hosmer have been struggling for most of the season with a couple hiccups of optimism. Jarrod Dyson was starting to get hot before getting hurt Wednesday night in Anaheim. Dyson was finally freed over the last week and getting results starting last Friday against the Yankees belting a 3- run home run and then making things happen in Anaheim before rolling his ankle.
On the pitching side, Jeremy Guthrie had his club record unbeaten streak of 18 snapped at L.A. this week but he’s been solid all year even with the setback. Wade Davis has been honestly hit or miss this year with the crown jewel being his great effort in Atlanta last month, hoping for some consistency with him. Big Game James has been everything Royals fans have wanted in a “ace” of the rotation but his record hasn’t matched the output given how anemic the offense has been in his starts (or Ned taking him out).