ROYALS AT ASTROS
April 7-9, 2017
OK, we got the Opening Day jitters out of the way. It’s time to get down to the long, slow business of grinding the rest of the American League into dust. Why not get a little revenge while we’re at it?
I use “revenge” loosely, of course. I’m not aware of anything eminently hate-worthy about the Royals. Blowing game 4 was much more about the Astros’ own mistakes than the ways in which the Royals took advantage of them.
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LAST SERIES?
It was a good start; four-game sweeps aren’t easy. We’re on pace for 120+ wins, and that ain’t no thang. As an added bonus, for the first time this millennium, both the radio and TV broadcasts are good!
In early overreactions:
- George Springer will win the MVP unanimously, as he currently leads the AL in HR, RBI, and Win Probability Added, is second in WAR, and… um, dead last in baserunning.
- Dallas Keuchel is BACK, and so is LMJ.
- Jose Altuve believes his own hype and will be the worst hitter in the lineup all season.
The Royals found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-game sweep at the hands of the mighty Minnesota Twins, which is pretty low on the list of ways you would want to start your season. Even worse, their formerly unhittable bullpen gave up 14 runs in those 3 games, turning close contests into blowouts.
GAMES AND PROBABLES
Friday, April 7 – 7:10 pm CDT
Jason Vargas vs. Mike Fiers
Vargas underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and spent most of 2016 rehabilitating, making 3 September starts in his return. He has given up a .269 BA (14 for 52) against current Astros, including notables Jose Altuve (5 for 11) and Josh Reddick (6 for 30, 1 HR).
Fiers will look to rebound from 2016 and show that, whenever McHugh ultimately returns, he should keep his rotation spot. Unfortunately, the Royals are not the ideal crew for that – Fiers has given up a .327 clip (16 for 49) to current Royals; Cain, Escobar, and Hosmer have all hit him hard, and only Salvador Perez (0 for 8) has struggled against him.
Saturday, April 8 – 7:10 pm CDT
Danny Duffy (0-0, 1.50) vs. Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 0.00)
Duffy had a strong start against the Twins, giving up only 1 run on 3 hits over 6 innings with 8 strikeouts. He has struggled against current Astros, giving up a .350 BA (21 for 60). Look for damage from Altuve (6 for 11, 2 2b) and Springer (3 for 6, 2 HR) and avert your eyes for Correa and Reddick (1 for 7 each).
Early season overreactions aside, Keuchel looked much better in the opener, keeping the ball down effectively. Current Royals have a .286 BA (36 for 126) against Keuchel, led by Cain (6 for 18, 2 HR) and Escobar (8 for 23, 1 HR). Keuchel will look forward to Moustakas (1 for 8, 7 groundouts, all to the right side) and Alex Gordon (1 for 10, 6 strikeouts).
Sunday, April 9 – 1:10 CDT
Nate Karns (0-0, 54.00) vs. Lance McCullers (1-0, 1.50)
The good news for Karns: he got two strikeouts. The bad news: Those were the only outs of his start – he walked two, gave up two, left the game, they all scored. Karns has had success against the Astros, only giving up a .224 BA (17 for 76). Reddick has had moderate success (3 for 8, 1 HR) but look out for Springer (1 for 7), Correa (2 for 12), and Beltran (2 for 12, 5 K)
McCullers managed his first start well, getting ahead of hitters and only giving up 1 run over 6 innings. (Let’s see if we can go 7, ok? Stretch goals.) LMJ has two career starts against the Royals – 1 regular season, and one playoff; the first was a 7 inning, 1 run performance, and the playoff game… well, McCullers sparkled with a 6 1/3 inning, 2 run, 2 hit effort. I don’t remember anything that happened after that, and you can’t make me.
Current Royals have only gone 5 for 30 against McCullers, with Perez (2 for 5) the only player to manage multiple hits against him.
It was pointed out to me yesterday that “Giles” spelled backwards is “Selig”.
I now feel the need to walk through Minute Maid Park with a large bell, yelling “UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!”