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Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals, 7-9 May 2013

After a very successful 7-4 road trip on the West Coast, practically unheard of for the last several years, the O's return to Camden Yards for a weird three-game homestand against the Royals.

According to WAR, this kid's already our best player.
According to WAR, this kid's already our best player.

If you'd told me before this road trip that the O's would go 7-4, I'd have been thrilled. If you'd followed that up by telling me that they'd do so and lose the Mariners series, I would've called you crazy. Yet, here we are.

Tuesday, 7 May: Wei-Yin Chen vs. Ervin Santana
Career Numbers Chen vs. Royals Santana vs. O's
IP 10.2 76.1
ERA 7.59 5.42
FIP 5.44 5.24
Slash Line (Past Teams) .333/.354/.689 .261/.317/.487
Slash Line (Current Players) .341/.364/.707 .226/.287/.547

Chen followed up the best start of his career with his worst of the season in Seattle, going only four innings and giving up five runs. He struggled with command all night and didn't seem to have the good changeup he displayed in Oakland. Chen's record against Kansas City doesn't lend one to optimism regarding whether he'll get back on track, but it's a very small sample size. No current Royal has more than six PA against Chen, for 44 total.

Santana, normally a fourth starter type, has been excellent thus far this year, pitching 36 innings over five starts with a 2.00 ERA, 7.75 K/9 and 1.25 BB/9. Fortunately, current Orioles have hit him pretty well in the past, though it's been a bit feast-or-famine: a sub-.300 OBP paired with eight homers and ten doubles in 115 PA. If Santana's having a second career year (he was worth 5-6 wins in 2008), that may all be irrelevant, but most sources suggest he's just off to a hot start. Maybe the O's can begin regressing him towards the mean.

Maybe hot: Nick Markakis (1.000 OPS with 3 HR in 34 PA), Chris Davis (.946 OPS with 3 HR in 24 PA), J.J. Hardy (1.200 OPS with 2 HR in 10 PA)

Likely not: Matt Wieters (.468 OPS in 14 PA)

Wednesday, 8 May: Chris Tillman vs. Luis Mendoza
Career Numbers Tillman vs. Royals Mendoza vs. O's
IP 14.0 14.0
ERA 10.93 5.79
FIP 8.31 5.24
Slash Line (Past Teams) .377/.424/.770 .304/.365/.482
Slash Line (Current Players) .316/.366/.632 .241/.333/.276

Sometimes, digging into these pitcher matchups is really depressing. Chris Tillman's career home run rate is a big reason for that; he's given up six in his fourteen innings against the Royals. Only three of those were hit by current Royals, but they still have three in 42 PAs. Okay, screw the matchups: Tillman is coming off of three straight starts of 6+ IP and <3 ER each, and his last start was a three-hit, eight-inning effort. There, that's better.

Mendoza was looking like a career AAAA guy until he caught on with the Royals last year, pitching 99 major-league innings over five years before starting regularly and throwing 166 innings in 2012. So far this year, he has a 7.00 ERA over eighteen innings and hasn't maintained a rotation spot, moving to the bullpen for the second half of April and hardly being used. Small sample size caveats apply to his matchups against the O's, as no one has seen him more than eight times, and only Casilla and Markakis more than three.

Thursday, 8 May: TBA vs. Jeremy Guthrie
Career Numbers TBA Guthrie vs. O's
IP - -
ERA - -
FIP - -
Slash Line (Past Teams) - -
Slash Line (Current Players) - .103/.161/.103

Freddy Garcia seems the most likely guy to start this game for the O's, but a recent Inbox from Britt Ghiroli suggests that Jair Jurrjens, Jake Arrieta, and Miguel Gonzalez are all possibilities. More interestingly, it's going to be awfully weird seeing Guts in a visiting uniform, but it was bound to happen eventually. He's off doing his peripheral-defying thing in Kansas City now, currently posting a 2.40 ERA and the highest groundball rate of his career (though also stranding a ridiculous 93.3% of runners). All the best to him, but we still want a win on Thursday, so perhaps we can introduce the Royals to a new "Guts QS, Orioles Royals Lose" tradition. I've really got nothing for you matchup-wise here: Guthrie has done well against Alexi Casilla (.429 OPS, 14 PA) and pre-2011 Chris Davis (.091 OPS, 11 PA) - surprise, surprise.

I don't have a hit-and-run sign, and I believe it's the worst play in baseball... Hell, you may as well bunt! Over the course of the season, only a few guys actually get hits on the hit-and-run play, because everything must go right for it to work... I'll take my chances with a normal swing anytime. - Earl Weaver