Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, June 20, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Maybe they’re just going to be the flavor of the month for June. But, right now, nobody is playing better baseball in the American League than the Kansas City Royals. A win streak reached double digits in their statement series at Detroit. We previewed that matchup for you back on Monday…and then Kansas City spent the next few days making headlines!
What’s funny is that…about a dozen games ago, Kansas City and the Seattle Mariners were basically identical teams. Those American League playoff contenders square off this weekend. Seattle could just as easily have been the team getting hot. Who’s to say the Mariners aren’t about to be the next big story.
*Both teams have been near the top of the AL all season in park adjusted pitching.
*Both teams have been at the very bottom of the AL all season in park adjusted hitting.
*Both teams were basically treading water for two months because their pitching staffs did enough to allow them to win games despite dormant bats.
The Royals started hitting two weeks ago…and wins became a daily occurrence. Seattle’s just has to upgrade production a bit to find themselves in the same scenario. There’s some parity in the AL right now (and all of baseball), that any little improvement can yield dramatic dividends because it allows you to step past all the teams standing still.
Seattle finds itself in a potentially great situation this weekend. Kansas City could be flat as a pancake off their huge series in Detroit. The Royals officially climbed to the top of the mountain in their division. How are they going to stay sky high for a mid-level visitor from Seattle who isn’t likely to get their juices flowing? If you’re handicapping the series, those “football” type intangibles favor the road dog. Let’s see what the stats say…
Seattle: 4.01 runs per game, .298 on-base, .368 slugging
Kansas City: 4.27 runs per game, .315 on-base, .373 slugging
Both teams have been awful most of the season by AL standards. Kansas City recently ignited, as we just mentioned, which pushed their stats clearly ahead of Seattle’s. Maybe that was just a short term fluke, and these teams are close to even. Handicapping Kansas City moving forward could largely entail properly evaluating their nightly offensive potential.
Hisashi Iwakuma: 2.59 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 6.4 K-Rate
James Shields: 3.50 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.5 K-Rate
Iwakuma is back to his ace caliber form. He’s not a strikeout pitcher…but that WHIP shows it’s very hard to make good contact against him. He will occasionally have an off-game. For now, one of the top rotation pitchers in the American League. Shields has been inconsistent…but he’s been getting great run support when he doesn’t have his best stuff lately. Royals have won his last eight starts.
Chris Young: 3.40 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 4.7 K-Rate
Jason Vargas: 3.25 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 6.4 K-Rate
If you only look at ERA and WHIP, those two seem very similar. But, Young is only lasting six innings per start, which is pedestrian in a year of the pitcher. Vargas is up at 6.6 IP per start, which means he gets you to higher quality relievers. Vargas has also thrown quality starts in seven of his last eight outings. Boy is he positioned to close strong if the Royals offense is suddenly legit.
Roenis Elias: 3.91 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7.8 K-Rate
Yordano Ventura: 3.26 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 7.8 K-Rate
The first MLB game ever where the starting pitchers were named Roenix and Yordano! Elias has been inconsistent, but did shut out Detroit. Clearly he must have had some lousy games to have an ERA near 4.00 with a shutout on the resume. Ventura has been solidly consistent, throwing six quality starts in his last eight outings.
Tricky task for handicappers. Kansas City would seem to have the better pitching potential Saturday and Sunday, but may be dealing with a massive letdown all weekend.
JIM HURLEY definitely has this series on his weekend radar. But, there are great possibilities all over the Major League card. You can always purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office during normal business hours on weekdays or in the morning on weekends at 1-888-777-4155. This weekend is a great time to talk turkey about the coming football season. Early-bird signups get great rates!
We’ll have big game TV previews here in the NOTEBOOK through the weekend. Then it’s back to some series showdowns.
Saturday: MLB TV Preview…Detroit at Cleveland (prime time on FOX)
Sunday: MLB TV Preview…Texas at LA Angels (prime time on ESPN)
Monday: MLB Series Preview…Washington at Milwaukee
Tuesday: MLB Series Preview…Detroit at Texas
Wednesday: MLB Big Game Preview…LA Dodgers at Kansas City
Thursday: MLB Series Preview…St. Louis at LA Dodgers
Friday: MLB Series Preview…Boston at the NY Yankees
Important previews every day in the NOTEBOOK, then DIAMOND GEMS every night from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!