Series Preview: Blue Jays vs. Royals
Losing six straight games has become a regular occurrence in recent Royals memory. It has happened twice this season and too many times in the past ten years. I agree with Coach Ned Yost, this is unacceptable of any franchise who wants to contend. As the Royals are looking into getting back on track against Toronto on Monday night, the message is clear from the manager, “win.”
The Royals have given away games in a variety of ways during this streak. There have been errors on defense, digging early holes that are too deep to crawl out of, and/or lack of timely hitting. You cannot win ball games like this.
The Blue Jays are coming in to town after sweeping the Baltimore Orioles, including a 10-1 shelling on Sunday. They Blue Jays are also currently in fourth place in their division like the Royals, however they are above .500.
Game 1: Brett Cecil (8-5) vs. Kyle Davies (4-6)
Brett Cecil is making his first start against the Royals and he is coming off an impressive 7-inning performance that earned him his eighth win. On the other hand, Kyle Davies has not had a win in his past seven starts. His last start against the Mariners, earned him a no decision when the Royals rallied late to win 7-3.
Davies has faced the Blue Jays once, earlier this season. He gave up six hits, two walks, and four runs. He faced them twice last season and they managed a .320 average with three home runs. The upside of this is that the Royals will sleep in their own beds tonight and be better rested than their opponents will be.
Game 2: Jesse Litsch (0-4) vs. Anthony Lerew (1-3)
Both of these pitchers were shelled in their most recent outings. Both of them have atrocious ERAs at this point but one quick and painful outing will do that. On the other side of things, Litsch has had success against the Royals. In his career, he is 2-1 with an ERA of 1.19 against the boys in blue. However, the last time he faced the Royals it was in 2008 and the lineup has changed significantly since then. Like most of his starts this year will be, this will be the first time Lerew has thrown against the Jays.
Game 3: Marc Rzepczynski (0-0) vs. Zack Greinke (5-9)
Last series I made a bold statement about how Greinke needs to make a statement every time he pitches and I am not backing down from it. Instead of leading off the series, he is closing it out. The Royals need some momentum going into New York for their four game series against the Bronx Bombers.
Rzepczynski is slotted to replace Brandon Morrow for this game in order to give Morrow additional rest. This is his first appearance against the Royals. His ERA is currently 5.40. This is thanks largely to the Minnesota Twins, who shelled eight hits and four runs in just over five innings of work. In his three appearances, so far this season he has also given up two homeruns. If the Royals were looking for a mismatch in pitching matchups, they might have found one here.
The Royals offense has struggled lately and it has been painfully obvious on the scoreboard and on the division standings. Hitting is a very fickle. You are going to have low points in a 162 game season. However, good hitting teams will never have everyone cold at once. It is the middle of July in Missouri, the Royals need their batting to match the weather, HOT every single day.
The Blue Jays have scored twenty-eight runs in the past five games, dating back to July 10th. This includes the ten-run onslaught that they gave the Orioles on Sunday. This being said, they are still near the bottom of the league in batting average with a team average of .243. If the Royals pitching staff needed to play a poor hitting team, this would be the opportune series to do so. The last time the Royals played a poorer hitting team (Seattle), it was a very productive boost in their confidence.
The Royals made errors that cost them at least two of the games against the Athletics. A coach can hit infield until his arms fall off. However, there is something cannot be coached that the Royals defense has been lacking since the Chicago series (Execution). If you make plays behind your pitchers, they will battle for you. If you make an error every game, that is enough to throw the pitcher’s game out of whack enough to make him hittable.
DeJesus has continued his errorless streak and still has a shot of the all-time record for an outfielder, which is currently at 269 games. If he plays everyday, he is set to break the record on August 20 at home against the Chicago White Sox.
The Blue Jays are statistically in the middle of the pack on defense. They do however, rank third in the American League with 98 double plays turned so far this year. While the Royals are in a three way tie with 80.
When their ace left for “greener pastures”, the stats were not going to be as fantastic as they would be with him. Despite the notable departure, the Blue Jays are among the stingiest pitching staff when it comes to the long ball. They have only given up 82, where as the Royals have given up 103.
Based on what I have seen, watched, and/or read about the Royals pitching staff this season their winning combination is this:
Effective Start goes 6-7 innings and leave the game either tied or winning + 1-2 innings of relief + 1 inning of Soria to close the deal.
When the Royals manage to do this, it is lights out. However, getting the starters to go that deep day in and day out has been a struggle all year.
The Royals are playing at home. The Blue Jays have a time zone change and a flight of over a thousand miles. This might be a factor for game one of the series, but fatigue will be even for games two and three. If the Royals defense continues its consecutive games with at least one error, it will be another long and dreadful series for the Royals.