Currently, both the Royals and the Twins sit at the bottom of the AL Central with 5 - 14 records, putting both squads 5 games out of first place. There is a three-way log jam at the top with the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers all one game above .500.
While a team cannot win a division in April or May, it is very easy to get out of contention in a hurry. Most experts agree that the Detroit Tigers are a 90 - 95 win ballclub. Their slow start has been a gift to the rest of the division, but one that will probably end soon.
If the Royals lose the series against the Twins or are swept, they will find themselves 7 or 8 games out of first place with a brutal 9 game stretch against the Tigers, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox to start the month of May.
If the Royals are going to right the ship and take care of business in Minnesota, three things need to happen:
1. Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer need to break out of their funks. Both of the young stars have started slow out of the gates and are both hitting below .220. If the Royals want a memorable 2012 season, these two young stars will need to get hot at the plate in a hurry.
2. Bruce Chen will need to continue to pitch well. Despite the fact that Chen is winless for the year, the smooth throwing lefty has been pitching great. For the season, Chen has a 2.52 ERA with a 0.92 WHIP. If he can keep throwing this well, it is just a matter of time before the wins start piling up.
3. Billy Butler will need to continue to carry the load offensively. Butler, who is the most underrated DH in baseball, has hit the ball well all season long. Through 19 games, Butler has amassed a .303 AVG with 4 HR and 13 RBIs. Until Gordon, Hosmer and Jeff Francoeur begin hitting well, it will be up to Butler to provide the necessary offensive support.
Alex Wibholm is an Iowa native and fan of the Kansas City Royals and AL Central Division. Alex attends several KC games every year.