Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 7:00 PM
It’s been almost 30 years since the Kansas City Royals beat the St. Louis Cardinals in a classic seven-game series for the World Championship. The advent of Interleague play made them annual rivals in regional warfare. This year’s freeway series runs Monday through Thursday Night, with the first two games in St. Louis, and the final two in Kansas City.
This year’s meeting isn’t just something for the locals though. St. Louis is once again in a tough race in the NL Central. Kansas City just made some moves on the coaching staff in hopes of jumpstarting a run at a Wildcard behind AL Central favorite Detroit. But, their margin for error would become very small if they dropped three out of four in this series (or worse). There’s a definite sense of urgency in Kansas City that goes above and beyond their annual rivalry series. That could make for a very exciting week!
Let’s quickly evaluate the offenses through the first two months of 2014 MLB action. Then we’ll look at the probable pitchers for the four-game set.
Kansas City: 3.87 runs per game, .307on-base, .352 slugging
St. Louis: 3.89 runs per game, .323 on-base, .368 slugging
Those stats are through Saturday’s games because of publication deadlines. Note that St. Louis has the better numbers across the board even though they don’t play in the DH league! That gives you a sense of how horrible Kansas City has been on offense this season. They’re so bad that some NL teams have better numbers than they do with pitchers batting instead of a DH. Big edge head to head because St. Louis will be better offensively either way at either site.
MONDAY’S PITCHERS (in St. Louis on ESPN)
Danny Duffy: 3.57 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 6.1 K-Rate
Shelby Miller: 3.94 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 6.7 K-Rate
Duffy 10 earned runs allowed in last 10 innings (vs. Houston and the LA Angels) after a few good starts. Miller 11 earned runs allowed in last 11 innings (vs. NY Yankees and Cincinnati) after peaking at 2.79 in ERA. So we have a pair of pitchers who are in much worse form than those numbers above would suggest. And, those numbers aren’t that great in what’s been a low-scoring year in the Majors. Miller in particular has been a disappointment. Poor K-Rates for both.
TUESDAY’S PITCHERS (in St. Louis)
James Shields: 3.36 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.7 K-Rate
Jaime Garcia: 4.12 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 8.9 K-Rate
Shields allowed 10 earned runs allowed in his last 13 innings (at Toronto, at LAA). Something’s contagious! Garcia’s only had three starts this season after returning from injury. Has allowed 4 home runs in 19.2 innings, which is how you can have a mediocre ERA with a great WHIP! Normally a pitcher’s duel when both are in standard form. Tonight, more of a question mark.
WEDNESDAY’S PITCHERS (in Kansas City)
Adam Wainwright: 2.32 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 8.5 K-Rate
Jason Vargas: 3.39 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 6.9 K-Rate
Wainwright is of course a Cy Young contender. Though, he’s coming off a rare bad start vs. San Francisco where he allowed seven earned runs in only four innings. Vargas has been a feast-or-famine pitcher…either pitching much better or much worse than the numbers you see above. Edge to Wainwright…but Vargas is capable of throwing a competitive gem.
THURSDAY’S PITCHERS (in Kansas City)
Michael Wacha: 2.45 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 9.2 K-Rate
Yordano Ventura: 3.45 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 9.3 K-Rate
Wacha has been consistently throwing quality starts all season. He’s become a second ace on the Cardinals staff. Ventura has elbow concerns after only lasting 2.2 innings vs. Houston. Reviews have been good for side sessions then. Hopefully that’s just not wishful thinking from the Royals staff.
All sorts of potential for wild games in this year’s edition of the “Battle of Missouri.” JIM HURLEY will likely have at least one play in this series, and could be even more active than that. You can always purchase the final word right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about combination packages that include the NBA Championships that start Thursday and Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.
Here’s the NOTEBOOK schedule for this week:
Tuesday: Toronto at Detroit series preview
Wednesday: Oakland at the New York Yankees TV preview
Thursday: Game One of the NBA Finals…Miami at San Antonio
Friday: choosing an MLB series preview from LAD/Colorado, St. Louis/Toronto, and Oakland/Baltimore
See you Tuesday for that battle of AL divisional leaders (which is a freeway series with a border crossing!). Now, go GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!