The Series Preview is back!
Due to technical difficulties that are almost certainly my fault, I was unable to log in for the past week. Just in time for this epic series against *checks card* the worst team in the American League, we’re back in business.
Game Times, Promotions and Broadcast Information:
Tuesday: 7:15p on FSWI and 620WTMJ
Wednesday: 7:15p on FSWI and 620WTMJ
Tuesday: Zach Davies (4.84 ERA, 22.1 IP, 20.8 K%) v. Ian Kennedy (2.35 ERA, 23 IP, 22.0 K%)
Ian Kennedy was signed to a five year, $70 million deal by the Royals following their World Series victory, presumably because he had compromising video of General Manager Dayton Moore on a champagne-soaked bender. Perhaps Moore admitted he liked Carolina barbecue better than Kansas City’s on camera. Whatever the case might have been, Kennedy has thrown 372.2 innings of mostly ineffective baseball for the Royals. He’s going to continue to do that through 2020. Again, it must have been some night for Moore.
Davies has been on a yo-yo this season, allowing 7, 1, 5 and 0 runs in his four outings to start the year. If the pattern holds on Tuesday, it’ll be a long night. If there was ever a pair of offenses for a pitcher to bounce back against, it’s Cincinnati and Kansas City.
Wednesday: Chase Anderson (3.25 ERA, 27.2 IP, 18.9 K%) v. Jason Hammel (3.20 ERA, 25.1 IP, 15.2 K%)
Anderson’s results look great, but unlike the last few years, they aren’t backed up by peripheral numbers. He’s been the benefactor of an unsustainably-low .197 BABIP, 90 points off his career average, and an unsustainably-high strand rate of 93.5%, nearly 20 points off his career norms. In other words, he’s getting extremely lucky in keeping batters off the bases, and even when they reach, he’s getting extremely lucky in stranding them there. This, in the mathematics business, is commonly referred to as “not great, man” and signals a coming correction.
Jason Hammel is a baseball player. You can tell by the fact that he has a baseball jersey on when you see him on TV. He has carved a 12 year career out of being exactly average enough so that even fans of the team he plays for forgets he’s there. He…uh…who was I talking about again?
2018: First meeting
All-time: 172-213 (79-118 in Kansas City)
This is the first meeting between Kansas City and Milwaukee since 2015, when the Royals swept Milwaukee in a home-and-home four game series. Kansas City has won eight straight games in the series, and the Brewers have not won at Kaufmann Stadium since June 23, 2006. Geoff Jenkins and Corey Koskie were the offensive MVPs in that one, and Dave Bush got the win.
Are the Royals good?
LOL no. The Royals enter this series at 5-15, owners of the American League’s worst record. They have a combined offensive fWAR of 0.3, which is equal to the offensive fWAR produced by Milwaukee’s relief pitching. Seriously. The first half of this season will mainly serve an audition for contenders looking to scoop up the last remaining assets on the Royals roster, including a trio of 29-year-olds in LHP Danny Duffy, 2B Whit Merrifield, and the criminally-underpaid 3B Mike Moustakas (hold that thought).
Old friends, new enemies:
The Zack Grienke Trade Tree: Seven years removed from the blockbuster deal that brought the former Cy Young winner to Milwaukee, more of the players the Brewers traded away have returned to the fold than have remained with KC. Lorenzo Cain will be making his return to Kaufmann Stadium after spending the past seven years there, and the perennial All Star will be welcomed back warmly. Jeremy Jeffress, who threw 27 ineffective innings for the Royals before spending the next several years pitching well for Milwaukee and poorly for everyone else, will probably not be remembered as fondly. Alcides Escobar is the lone player that remains with the Royals, having returned to the team on a one year, $2.5 million deal this offseason.
Jon Jay and Joger Soler, OF: The pair of former Cubs outfielders have reunited in Kansas City. It’ll be the Brewers first look at Soler since 2016, when he was traded to the Royals for Wade Davis in what looks like a preposterously one-sided trade. Soler has an a batting average of .195 in 149 at bats with KC. Jay is with his fourth team in four years, and he has a .621 OPS this season.
Blaine Boyer, RP: Boyer was a surprise anchor for the Brewers bullpen in 2016, throwing 66 innings with a 3.95 ERA. He’s been horribly ineffective for the Royals this season, allowing 19 runs (15 earned) over six innings. He’s allowed 15 hits, walking eight and striking out two. He may, however, be the MVP of the season for the Royals thus far, having recently saved everyone on the team from a fiery death by helping an injured driver keep the team bus under control.
If the Royals were a WWE wrestler, which would they be?
The Royals would be Titus O’Neil.
O’Neil slowly rose up the ranks over the first half of the decade, finally reaching the mountaintop and winning a championship (with Darren Young as The Prime Time Players) in 2015. The reign would not last long, however, and Titus returned to the mid-card for a few years, and now wallows in relative obscurity.
Who’s hot, who’s not:
🔥🔥🔥 Mike Moustakas, 3B: Moustakas struck out on the free agent market this winter, and had to settle on a one year, $6.5 million contract to return to Kansas City just months after turning down a $17.4 million qualifying offer. He’s already more than earned it, racking up a .953 OPS with six home runs this season. The suspiciously silent free agent market this winter failed Moustakas, and the Royals will reap the rewards come the trade deadline as Moose is sure to draw plenty of suitors at such a low price.
🔥🔥🔥 Travis Shaw, 3B: The Mayor is quickly putting to bed any worries that his breakout 2017 season was a fluke. Over the past two weeks, Shaw has a .992 OPS with five extra base hits and more walks (12) than strikeouts (11).
❄️❄️❄️ Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez, OF and C: Gordon and Perez have both been out on a rehab assignment recently but were not in the lineup for Monday’s tilt with Triple-A Omaha, seemingly confirming rumors that both veterans would be activated for Tuesday’s opener against Milwaukee. Perez has not played this season, having sprained his MCL while packing in his home after returning from Spring Training. Gordon was placed on the DL after a tearing his hip labrum on April 10; he was hitting a sparse .174/.208/.217 in seven games before the injury.
❄️❄️❄️ Domingo Santana, OF: Santana has been ice cold to start the season, hitting just .216 with only one extra base hit on the season in 83 plate appearances. His hard hit percentage is way down, as is his line drive rate, and he’s chasing balls outside the zone at a rate much higher than career norms (32.3%, vs. a 26.2% career average). In a crowded outfield, he’s going to need to start hitting soon or he’ll find himself riding the bench more often than not.