Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, July 19, 2015 at 7:00 PM
This used to be the kind of series that baseball dreaded when Interleague play was first introduced. Sure…people want to see Mets/Yankees or Cubs/White Sox. But, what’s going to happen when irrelevant teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals square off!
Well, in 2015, what happens just might be a World Series preview! Kansas City is still the favorite to win the American League as they continue building on last year’s league title. Pittsburgh trails powerhouse St. Louis over in the National League. But, they have posted a better record than the Redbirds in recent weeks.
In terms of what’s happening RIGHT NOW in the sport, it’s hard to get better than this. Let’s run through JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats the three-game set that begins Monday Night in Kansas City.
Pittsburgh: 4.02 runs per game, .316 on-base, .378 slugging
Kansas City: 4.39 runs per game, .324 on-base, .408 slugging
These offenses are relatively even in the big picture once you adjust for the DH’s impact on stats. Pittsburgh rarely gets to use a Designated Hitter (though they will in this series), while Kansas City rarely has to bat their pitchers. Account for that…and it’s a virtual wash. Both rate in the middle of their leagues in run volume. Kansas City has more pop, which could end up being a tie-breaker.
A.J. Burnett: 2.11 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.6 K-Rate, 6.6 IP-per-Start
Yordano Ventura: 4.73 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 7.2 K-Rate, 5.6 IP-per-Start
Keep in mind that the pitching matchups are subject to change. Managers often tinker right after the All-Star Break. There’s already been some confusion over the weekend about whether Burnett or Cole would start the opener. Interesting that Pittsburgh went with lesser arms this past weekend in Milwaukee (which cost them the series) while saving their aces for the Royals. Here, both starters are dealing with long layoffs. If they pitch to form, clear advantage for Burnett based on ERA and IP-per-start.
Gerrit Cole: 2.30 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 8.9 K-Rate, 6.5 IP-per-Start
Jason Vargas: 4.10 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 5.4 K-Rate, 5.2 IP-per-Start
Again, two pitchers dealing with long layoffs…and, again, the Pirates entry has much better stats. It’s the top of the Pirates rotation against the back of the Royals rotation so far! Note that Vargas had been finding better form just before the ASB, as his ERA dropped about 2.5 runs in his prior five starts. Did the layoff mess all that up? Edge to Cole, who’s still putting together a serious Cy Young portfolio. If the managers do tinker…there’s not going to be much of a difference in outlook unless either Burnett or Cole are outright scratched.
Charlie Morton: 4.34 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 5.0 K-Rate, 5.8 IP-per-Start
Edinson Volquez: 3.28 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 6.6 K-Rate, 5.9 IP-per-Start
Morton struggled in Milwaukee in his first start after the break, losing to the lowly Brew Crew. Volquez threw a quality start against the White Sox right after the ASB, but got no run support in a 2-0 defeat. Volquez already had better numbers in this matchup…and their first appearances since the ASB did nothing to alter the differences between these two. Edge to the Royals in the series finale. And, if they do drop the first two games…then this would be a huge bounce back spot on their home field against a team with a plane to catch. Let’s see how the series plays out.
JIM HURLEY could have a major play in this series. As of publication time it’s obviously too early to know for sure. You can purchase each night’s baseball BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Be sure to check on early-bird football when you call!
More great baseball previews the next few days until we pick up with our summer series of college football previews this weekend. In fact, we’ll get another look at both of today’s teams later in the week. Critical weeks for these championship contenders!
Tuesday: MLB Series Preview…Baltimore at NY Yankees
Wednesday: MLB Big Game Preview…Minnesota at LA Angels
Thursday: MLB Series Preview…Washington at Pittsburgh
Friday: MLB Series Preview…Houston at Kansas City
Saturday: College Football Preview…SEC “East”
Sunday: College Football Preview…SEC “West”
Great baseball…then a look at both halves of the powerful SEC East. Be sure you’re reading and printing out all of these college previews as you prepare for the coming season. It will be here before you know it! Our NFL divisional previews, as always, will line up with early exhibition action in August.
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