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Orioles-Royals series preview: The fight for last place in MLB

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One of these two teams will make the first pick in next summer’s amateur draft. Baltimore currently “leads” this race of humiliation by 2.5 games.

Kansas City Royals v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

It all comes down to the this. The two worst teams in baseball meet at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri to determine, once and for all, who will get the honor or screwing up the first pick in the 2019 MLB Draft...sort of.

There will still be four weeks left in the season after this three-game set between the Orioles and Royals concludes on Sunday afternoon. A lot can happen between then and the end of September. The O’s enter this clash with the inferior record of 40-94 compared to the Royals’ 42-91 mark. Should KC sweep, it could put an end to the “drama” for both fan bases.

These two clubs met previously at Camden Yards back in May. The O’s took two out of three in that series, but also experienced an embarrassing game in which Dylan Bundy was unable to record an out before getting the hook.

As you would expect for the two worst teams in the sport, they rank near the bottom in just about every major statistical category. The Royals’ 498 runs scored are the fewest in the game while the Birds are in 25th place with 529 runs. Conversely, Baltimore’s pitching staff has surrendered 730 runs, just beating out Kansas City (712) for the worst mark in the game. You get the picture. These teams don’t have bad records by accident.

Some guys that you won’t see in this series due to injury: Ian Kennedy, Cheslor Cuthbert, Jorge Soler and Eric Skoglund. It is the trade market where the Royals have lost most of their familiar talent. Mike Moustakas is with the Brewers. Lucas Duda now plays for the Braves. Jon Jay got dealt to the Diamondbacks. And Kelvin Herrera went to the Nationals.

The only hitter still on the Royals roster that has put up intriguing stats this season is Whit Merrifield. The 29-year-old leads the team in batting average (.307), on-base percentage (.373), slugging percentage (.439) and stolen bases (28). Of course, Salvy Perez is always one to watch. Despite a down season, the catcher has 23 home runs and 65 RBI.

Game 1

RHP Andrew Cashner (4-12, 4.79 ERA) vs RHP Brad Keller(6-5, 3.33 ERA)
Friday, 8:15 p.m. ET, MASN 2

It’s been a topsy-turvy month of August for Cashner. He had that atrocious 1.2-inning outing against the Rangers where he allowed 10 runs back on August 2. But he has bounced back since then, and delivered a solid seven-inning, four-run start against the Yankees his last time out. He won’t “wow” you on the mound, but he is fairly consistent.

Keller is a rookie righty that has had an impressive season for KC. His time in the bigs has been split between the bullpen and the rotation. He was dominant out of the ‘pen: 22.1 IP, 2.01 ERA, .207 batting average against. But he has held his own as a starter too. Over 15 starts, Keller owns a 3.69 ERA and opposing batters are hitting .269/.344/.362 against him. However, he does not record many strike outs (59 SO in 83 IP).

Game 2
RHP Dylan Bundy (7-13, 5.37 ERA) vs RHP Heath Fillmyer (2-1, 4.21 ERA)
Saturday, 7:15 p.m. ET, MASN 2

A season that started so sweet for Bundy (2.91 ERA in April/March) has turned sour recently (9.24 ERA in August). The low point of his 2018, however, came back in May against these Royals when he allowed seven runs on five hits, two walks and four home runs without getting any outs. Home runs continue to haunt him. He has allowed at least one dong in nine consecutive starts.

Fillmyer is another first-year hurler that has transitioned from reliever to starter for Kansas City. It’s been a mixed bag for him starting games. His last outing was great as he allowed just one run over six innings to the Indians. Prior to that, he had served up six runs on seven hits, including three home runs, to the White Sox. In limited innings, Fillmyer has reverse splits. Right-handed hitters are teeing off of him to the tune of a .279/.330/.512 line, whereas lefties have struggled: .216/.341/.265.

Game 3

RHP David Hess (3-8 , 5.08 ERA) vs RHP Jorge Lopez (0-4, 4.86 ERA)
Sunday, 2:15 p.m. ET, MASN 2

Just when you thought it was time to write him off, Hess comes charging back with several really good starts in a row. Over his last two games, the rookie has allowed one run on seven hits, two walks and 12 strikeouts over 13 innings. Over his last four starts, Hess has a .186 batting average against and a 2.19 ERA. He could be deserving of a rotation spot in 2019 after all.

Lopez makes it a rookie trifecta for the Royals in this series. However, he is more experienced than his teammates, having made his MLB debut back in 2015. This will be just his sixth career MLB start, His longest outing in 2018 is only five innings, and he tends to give up some hits (11.9 hits per nine innings) and walks (5.3 walks per nine innings). A patient approach should be taken here, but this Orioles team has the fifth fewest base on balls in MLB.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win against the Royals over the weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    0 (get swept)
    (21 votes)
  • 44%
    1
    (74 votes)
  • 32%
    2
    (55 votes)
  • 10%
    3
    (17 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now