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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

2014 Kansas City Royals Playoff Preview Q&A

Jeremy Bergman |
September 30, 2014 | 2:01 a.m. PDT

Sports Director

It's been a long time coming for the Kansas City faithful. 29 years to be exact since the Royals hosted or even played in an MLB postseason game. After years of "This is the year!" cries followed swiftly by "Maybe next year!" qualifiers, Kansas City is finally back playing October baseball. Getting there wasn't easy and advancing further than the dreaded one-game Wild Card playoff won't be either. 

Tonight, the flailing Oakland Athletics and their deadline ace Jon Lester travel to Kauffman Stadium to try to steal the fourth-seed Wild Card spot from the Royals. To prime you for the monumental battle at the K, we contacted Royals blogger and superfan David Hill over at Kings of Kauffman to give us a few keys on tonight's game and KC's anticipated run through the postseason. 

Neon Tommy: October is when teams live and die by their pitching staffs. Besides James Shields, who should we be looking at in KC's starting rotation to step up in the postseason?

David Hill: The Royals' best pitcher this season, statistically, was Danny Duffy, even if his record did not indicate as such. Overall, he posted a 2.53 ERA and a 1.112 WHIP. However, his last outing, when he gave up four runs in two innings, is cause for concern. Should the Royals get past the Wild Card game, they are going to need to rely heavily upon Duffy.

NT: For the longest time, Billy Butler was the only Royal selected to the All-Star team per MLB's requirements. Now that the Royals are a formidable contender with a deep lineup, how has his role changed this year?

DH: Strangely, until the end of the season, it really hadn't. Butler was still expected to be the same hitter he had always been, but he struggled for most of the season. He had a nice run when he took over at first base when Eric Hosmer got injured, then appeared to get worn down. Now, after sitting for much of the first half of September, Butler looks like the same hitter he always has been. 

The Royals need Butler to be the same professional hitter he has always been. As far as they are concerned, that should remain his role.

NT: Presuming the Royals beat the A's Tuesday, what frightens you/the Royals most about traveling to Anaheim to play the Angels?

DH: The Angels' offense. Los Angeles has a solid pitching staff, and can likely hold their own against the Royals. However, the Royals offense just does not have anything approaching the weapons that the Angels do. Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and even Cole Kalhoun may be better than most of what the Royals have to offer. For the Royals to have a chance, if they get past Oakland, they need to be playing low scoring games where their speed and small ball offense can truly shine.

SEE ALSO: Dodgers Vs. Angels: Imagining The Freeway Fall Classic

NT: The Royals blew a great opportunity at home a few weeks ago to gain an edge on Detroit. Is there a sense of disappointment among fans that KC didn't win the Central?

DH: There is, to a degree, but it is washed away in the euphoria of finally making the playoffs. As much as facing the Orioles would have been the better matchup, and as much as winning the Central would have been cause for an even greater celebration, just making the playoffs is rewarding enough.

NT: What do you expect the atmosphere at Kauffman to be? Will there be high expectations for a long run or will fans just celebrate that the Royals finally made it back?

DH: Kauffman is going to be raucous tonight. During the games where the Royals have drawn over 30,000 fans, the atmosphere was amazing. Add in a home playoff game, and the atmosphere should be electric. Hopefully, the Royals feed off that tonight.

NT: How far do you see the Royals going in the playoffs?

DH: To be honest, I'm terrified of tonight's matchup, just because Jon Lester has owned the Royals this season. However, the A's have been in a death spiral over the past few weeks, so they may be able to finally defeat Lester. If so, then the Royals will go as far as their pitching and small ball offense can take them. Making it through the ALDS may be the best one can hope for.

Reach David Hill via e-mail here.

Reach Sports Director Jeremy Bergman via e-mail here and on Twitter here



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