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Orioles vs. Royals: Series Preview

The Orioles head to Kansas City hoping to salvage their season against the team with the best record in the AL, the Kansas City Royals. What could go wrong?

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far:

Ah, the four game sweep. It was less than a week ago the Orioles were on the good side of that one and things were looking pretty good. And then the Twins came to town and quickly made sure everyone forgot about that. If this were earlier in the season, I might bring up how three of the four games were lost by one run, one of them was in extra innings, the Orioles lost late leads, and a lot of it could be chalked up to bad luck. But the calendar is getting ready to flip into September so it doesn't really matter how they lost, all that matters is they did. And now they get to head to Kansas City to face the Royals, which as fate would have it was the last team before the Twins to sweep the Orioles in four games. I don't think you need a reminder about which series that was. But forget for a second the Royals have the best record in the AL - do you know how many times this season the Orioles have won a series on the road against a team currently above .500? Once. They've played in New York (both of them), Toronto, Houston, Minnesota, and Anaheim - all against teams above .500, some of them more than once. And they've won one of those series. One. It was June 19-21 in Toronto. I'm sure Kansas City will be different.

Ever since winning that Wild Card game against Oakland last year with the most improbable chances, the Royals really haven't looked back. Earlier this season the Twins and Tigers kind of made things interesting, but at some point those guys decided not to bother and the Royals surged ahead. They now have a 12.5 game lead on the Twins, which is the biggest lead by any of the six division leaders by a lot. With roster expansion coming next week, their starters may not need to play all of September.

Pitching Matchups:

Monday: Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Kris Medlen

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Jimenez

9-7

136.0

101

3.94

1.331

2.78

Medlen

1-0

14.1

166

3.12

1.047

2.80

Tuesday: Miguel Gonzalez vs. Danny Duffy

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Gonzalez

9-9

131.1

85

4.99

1.348

2.37

Duffy

6-6

103.1

97

4.59

1.403

1.53

Wednesday: Wei-Yin Chen vs. Johnny Cueto

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Chen

7-6

149.1

129

4.35

1.185

3.56

Cueto

9-8

166.2

146

3.13

0.978

4.36

Thursday: Chris Tillman vs. Yordano Ventura

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Tillman

9-8

129.2

89

4.28

1.319

1.94

Ventura

8-7

114.1

88

3.93

1.303

2.53

Other Notes:

- Some roster moves coming for this series. J.J. Hardy is headed to the DL, Steve Pearce will be activated off it, and Jorge Rondon will be brought along for bullpen relief. What we still don't know is who will be moved to allow Rondon to come in, but there are a few guys in the bullpen with options now so it shouldn't be an issue.

- Everyone remembers the shutdown bullpen Kansas City used in the playoffs last year. Unfortunately, its still there. Their 2.37 ERA is best in the AL and second best in the majors to St. Louis. Ned Yost knows it too...the KC bullpen has logged 399.0 innings, fifth most in the majors. And since the top four teams all have sub-.500 records, I get the sense they're doing more out of desperation.

- The Orioles still have a pretty good bullpen as well, and are league-leaders in defense - but both let the team down in the Minnesota series. Just what happened on Sunday afternoon anyway? I want Manny Machado signed for all of the years, but he needs to get his head in the game sometimes. It's probably too close to September call-ups to bother DFA'ing Parades, but when you're DH who can't hit and mess up the one time you're asked to play the field, that's pretty bad.

- The Royals don't have guys who've hit a ton of home runs (because their ballpark is approximately the size of Manhattan), but they've still got a decent lineup. Fortunately, one of their best hitters, Alex Gordon, is on the DL and out for a while.

- Remember as you're watching the Royals in the playoffs in October while the Orioles are sitting at home that these are the kind of fans they have, and just be glad at least we're not them.

Prediction:

OK, so I predicted the Orioles to win three of four against the Twins, maybe even sweep them, and that was obviously wrong. But here's the thing - it was a completely logical prediction. The Twins have been terrible on the road and were sending up some of their worst starting pitchers. Their closer was injured. I still don't know how it happened. So of course I'm going to logically predict the Orioles lose three of four in Kansas City, meaning they'll likely do the opposite. Because of course if they lose this series, we can really, finally, call this season over. Which likely means they'll win it and we'll all be talking about how they're back in it. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. That's the story this year.