From the Opponent: Royals vs. Rays Preview
An edit is never a good way to start off an article, but what can you do? Sometimes you simply "F" up and have to own it.... In eager anticipation to attend a pre-release screening of the movie Magic Mike tonight, I had the article ready to go but forgot to publish it.
The "eager anticipation" mentioned previously, is what is referred to as sarcasm.
Since I mentioned the movie, however, it only seems fair I elaborate a little: I attended the movie with a friend; a female friend and the film was actually more entertaining than I had anticipated. Now, mind you, entertaining does not always equate to good. There were definitely some funny parts and the character Dallas, played by Matthew McConaughey, was very funny. That being said, most of the acting was bad, the dialogue seemed forced and Channing Tatum and Cody Horn had no on-screen chemistry at all.
But fellas, if your girl wants to go to the film this weekend, GO! There were so many MILFs in the audience, it was ridiculous... and they were all very engaged with the film. An hour and a half of your life wasted could lead to a weekend or longer of net happiness.
The Kansas City Royals welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to Kauffman Stadium for a three game set beginning tonight.
Royals: 31-39, 4th AL Central
Rays: 40-32, 3rd AL East
Projected Pitching Match-ups:
- Monday: Alex Cobb (3-3, 3.82) v. Luke Hochevar (4-7, 5.65)
- Tuesday: Chris Archer (0-1, 1.50) v. Bruce Chen (6-6, 4.81)
- Wednesday: Matt Moore (4-5, 4.13) v. Vin Mazzaro (3-2, 5.24)
From the Opponent:
- What do you need to see from the Rays?
- What aspects of the Royals worry you the most?
- Who takes the series?
Scott gratefully gave Crown Crazed more than I anticipated:
The Rays come into Kansas City after a doubleheader sweep in Philadelphia that gave them a series win. They finished 9-9 in interleague play as the American League dominated the National League even more than usual in 2012. At 40-32, they sit 3.5 games behind the division leading Yankees which is admirable considering the injuries they've had to deal with, headlined by star third baseman Evan Longoria. Without Longoria, their defense has inexplicably struggled, particularly at the hot corner. Over the past week, the offense has been averaging just over four runs per game, and the hot players have not been the usual suspects. Since coming off the DL before the weekend, Jeff Keppinger is 6/12 with a double. Recent waiver claim Brooks Conrad had a huge weekend in Philadelphia, driving in five with some key hits against Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee.
The Royals were 8-10 in interleague and now sit at 31-39. Many were expecting a breakout year for the struggling franchise, but due to some struggling key performers and a pitching staff beleaguered by injuries, it hasn't come together. They have to be thrilled to get catcher Salvador Perez back this weekend after previously missing the entire season with a knee injury. Along with Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar, the Royals have also averaged a little over four runs per game. The pitching staff is certainly happy to see the Cardinals leave town after allowing 30 runs over three games to their NL rivals. The Royals and Rays have not played this season. In 2011, the Rays won the season series 5-2, but the Royals won two of three in Kansas City.
Monday's matchup: Alex Cobb (3-3, 3.82) v. Luke Hochevar (4-7, 5.65)
Cobb has started one game against the Royals in his career, and he threw seven scoreless innings to pick up a win. He's having a solid season since being called up to fill in for the injured Jeff Niemann with a 3.82 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 37.2 innings. He's coming off the best start in his career at Miami where he struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings, only allowing a couple hits and a walk. He's mainly a two pitch pitcher with a fastball that sits in the high 80's and a changeup/splitter that he throws to lefties and righties. The Royals should try to lay off the changeup which he rarely throws for called strikes.
Hochevar has thrown consecutive quality starts, pitching into the 8th inning each time against Milwaukee and Houston. In his career that has clearly not met expectations, he struggles against the Rays more than just about every other team; of the teams he has multiple starts against, his ERA against Tampa Bay is second highest only to the Yankees. Despite that, among current Rays, only Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton have had past success against him. The Rays will probably try to stack their lineup with left handers to take advantage of Hochevar's lack of a changeup.
Tuesday's matchup: Chris Archer (0-1, 1.50) v. Bruce Chen (6-6, 4.81)
Archer is coming off his ML debut in Washington after Jeremy Hellickson was placed on the DL. After a rough first inning that saw him allow three runs (one earned) on three hits with a wild pitch and some shoddy defense, the electric prospect settled in and proceeded to throw five straight perfect innings. Archer has two career minor league games against Royals affiliates, both back in 2009 as a Cubs prospect. Jarrod Dyson and Eric Hosmer have each faced him. He can reach back and throw a fastball in the mid 90's, and he has a low 80's slider that takes the shape of a curveball. He can get extremely wild, so if the Royals are patient, it's possible that he beats himself.
Despite some of his peripheral statistics being the best over the last three seasons, Chen's 4.81 ERA is the highest it has been since 2009. He's coming off a nice start in Houston when he struck out six in 5.2 innings, allowing just one run. In his career, he's been very good against the Rays with a 1.09 WHIP over 74.1 innings, but he hasn't faced them since 2010. Carlos Pena and Hideki Matsui have each homered off him in their careers, but most Rays have not had any success against him at all. Current Rays have a .280 OBP against Chen in 76 plate appearances.
Wednesday's matchup: Matt Moore (4-5, 4.13) v. Vin Mazzaro (3-2, 5.24)
We all saw how dynamic Matt Moore can be in the postseason last year, but it's taken him a while to return to form in 2012. In four June starts, he has a 2.63 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with 27 strikeouts in 24 innings. Moore made three career appearances against Royals affiliates, one against Burlington of the Appy League in 2008 and twice in 2007. In the 2008 start against a lineup that included Salvador Perez, Moore allowed three unearned runs in five no-hit innings. While his breaking ball was one of his most effective minor league weapons, it's taken a back seat to his changeup. Because of this, he's struggling against left handed hitters this season which is unusual for a lefty with the kind of stuff he has.
Prior to his disastrous 1.1 inning, seven run start over the weekend against the Cardinals, Mazzaro had a 2.57 ERA in five 2012 appearances for the Royals, but that was not supported by his peripherals. With Felipe Paulino lost for the season, it seems like he'll have a chance to stick around for a while. Rays batters are largely unfamiliar with him, save for a handful of at-bats from Matsui, Upton, Pena and Ben Zobrist. He has two career starts against Tampa Bay with a 2.38 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 11.1 innings. Like Hochevar, Mazzaro really doesn't have an effective changeup, so he may not be able to fully take advantage of Tampa Bay's lefty hitters.
Who wins the series?
If I had to predict an outcome, I would take the Rays to win two out of three. Tampa Bay has the advantage when it comes to starting pitching, but if any of them are knocked out of the game quickly, it would benefit the Royals because the bullpens are much more even.