Dan Schlossberg's Midweek Report: Kansas City Rules the Roost in AL Central • Latino Sports

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Dan Schlossberg’s Midweek Report: Kansas City Rules the Roost in AL Central

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NEW YORK, NY – With the possible exception of George Brett, not many people picked the Kansas City Royals to win the American League Central title this season.

After all, the Detroit Tigers have dominated the division for years, thanks to the presence of two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera and Cy Young Award winners Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. And that was BEFORE the Bengals added David Price and his Cy Young hardware to the equation.

But the Royals, who have not been to postseason play since 1985, have been hinting for years that they would return to contention.

Young players are coming out of the farm system, gaining experience, and mixing with such experienced veterans as Omar Infante, a free agent signee, and Josh Willingham, acquired from Minnesota in a waiver deal just two years removed from a 35-homer campaign.

Josh Willingham, now with KC, hit 35 homers two years ago

Josh Willingham, now with KC, hit 35 homers two years ago

Smelling the rarified air of first place, the Royals got hotter than the midwestern summer, ripping off eight in a row as the Tigers treaded water.

One big worry for Detroit is Verlander, suddenly shelved with shoulder issues that could send him to the DL with his uncharacteristic 10-11 record and 4.76 ERA.

Besides the obvious contrast in payrolls between the clubs, the big difference between Detroit and Kansas City is the bullpen.

The Tigers have tried Joe Nathan and Joakim Soria with mixed success while Greg Holland has been a revelation for the Royals. He could even get some Cy Young votes in a year without standout starters in the Junior Circuit.

Justin Verlander's shoulder may account for his poor season

Justin Verlander’s shoulder may account for his poor season

Loyal readers of Latino Sports may recall that this columnist predicted a divisional flag for the Royals before the season started. There’s no telling how deep into October they’ll get — especially with inexperience such a major factor — but Ned Yost’s team is just young-and-hungry enough to be the latest incarnation of the ’69 Mets.

That team won with pitching, defense, and heart, a trifecta that negated any offensive weaknesses.

Detroit pays its players more but may wander back to the Motor City this fall without the title almost all other analysts predicted. Stranger things have happened — but not too many of them.

Elsewhere around the majors:

When Earl Weaver managed the Baltimore Orioles, he parlayed pitching and power into pennants — a formula Buck Showalter seems to be emulating this year as the O’s lead the American League in home runs and also play extremely well in the field . . .

Versatility is always valuable in baseball, especially when the Orioles can replace injured third baseman Manny Machado by moving slugging first baseman Chris Davis across the diamond . . .

Chris Davis filled in for Manny Achado at third base

Chris Davis filled in for Manny Achado at third base

Without Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh’s hope of reaching postseason play again is probably a pipedream . . .

Since the end of June, no team has kept pace with the Baltimore Orioles (27-11) . . .

Toronto may challenge Baltimore again when Edwin Encarnacion returns from rehabbing an injury at AAA Buffalo (International) . . .

The Mets will miss rookie starter Jacob DeGrom, disabled by shoulder problems after a spectacular start to his career  — just as Mets phenom Matt Harvey succumbed to elbow woes after a great start last year . . .

Congratulations to Miami freshman Jarred Cosart for outpitching Cy Young contender Adam Wainwright in a 3-0 shutout of St. Louis Tuesday . . .

Kyle Hendricks has been hotter than the Chicago weather

Kyle Hendricks has been hotter than the Chicago weather

Another hot rookie, Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs, is 4-1 with a 1.01 ERA over his last five starts . . .

Will Washington outfielder Michael Taylor keep it up after homering against the Mets in his major-league debut? . . .

Might as well concede that Dodger southpaw Clayton Kershaw will win his third straight NL Cy Young Award after starting 14-2 with a 1.78 ERA . . .

If Kershaw doesn’t double his pleasure by taking the MVP award too, look for Miami masher Giancarlo Stanton, the odds-on favorite to lead the National League in home runs and RBI, to grab it . . .

Clayton Kershaw is a shoo-in for his 3rd Cy

Clayton Kershaw is a shoo-in for his 3rd Cy

Boston’s patience with weak-hitting centerfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. is wearing thin . . .

On the plus side, the Bosox like 2015 rotation candidates Anthony Ranaudo, Rubby de la Rosa, Brandon Workman, and Allen Webster . . .

Dodger scouts must know something, if ex-Twin Kevin Correia’s masterful debut against the Braves serves as an accurate barometer. Wondering whether former Phillie Roberto Hernandez, also picked up on waivers, can do the same.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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