|MARINERS (4-8)||Δ Ms||ROYALS(7-4)||EDGE|
||-10.1 (24th)||1.5||4.5 (9th)||Kansas City|
||5.0 (7th)||2.6||-10.3 (29th)||Seattle|
||1.0 (15th)||-0.4||1.6 (14th)||Kansas City
||-4.1 (16th)||3.7||-4.2 (17th)||SEATTLE|
How about that? A plus for the offense in the series and a goodly increase in the starting pitching. Felix got smacked around a little bit but he, Pineda and Vargas combined to strike out 20 Blue Jays while walking only five and allowing just one home run allowed.
Honestly, these ranks are about where I hoped before the season that the team would have stabilized to. I expected the offense to be poor, but hopefully not as bottom-feeding as last season's edition. The bullpen had potential for sure, but also too many question marks for it to be counted on as a net asset. Though I figure the rotation will end up worse than seventh-best in the league, I also figured that Erik Bedard could be a reason for it to finish this high and so far he's been extremely lackluster. If he shakes the rust off, watch out.
Meanwhile, the Royals' awful rotation rating is a bit misleading since it's almost entirely due to Luke Hochevar and his six home runs allowed already. As we commence the newest offensive in the Battle for Grass Creek, the Mariners have ground that they need to recapture after 2010's losing campaign. Here are our warriors for Operation Mongoose.
Thu 14 April 17:10
|DOUG FISTER||BRUCE CHEN*|
Bruce Chen has a fastball that averages 86mph and yet rates an 80 on the swinging strike scale? He gets a missed bat almost 8% of the time that he throws his fastball and that actually is at the top end for fastballs. Meanwhile, Doug Fister's change up nets a swing and a miss about 8.5% of the time, but for a change up that is pretty poor and why he receives only a 30 grade. It's all relative which is why it's always important to pay attention to those final black bars representing the pitcher's overall grade in each category.
It might not be well known, but Kauffman Stadium is not a favorable place for home runs, so Chen's proclivity for yielding fly balls coupled with the Mariners' questionable power might not end up as favorably as we might hope. The Royals' park also tends to suppress strikeouts so Doug Fister might miss a negative number of bats today.
Fri 15 April 17:10
|ERIK BEDARD*||LUKE HOCHEVAR|
Erik Bedard's stuff seems to have survived the three shoulder surgeries intact which is a feat worth celebrating. His command has fluctuated over the first two starts, but that is to be expected and should settle down with repetition should he get it.
Luke Hochevar has one hell of a slider which he will probably use to neuter our stacked lefty lineup. He's also the only starter we'll face that features a pitch averaging over 90mph.
Meanwhile, the Royals will attempt to up their home runs against dinger-prone Bedard. They come into this series with just eight big knocks, one ahead of the Mariners. There's a fifteen-run difference between the two teams' wOBAs in large part because the Mariners as a team are batting .220 and the Royals are at .280. These are also two teams that like to run, so keep an eye out for aggressive play on the base paths.
Sat 16 April 10:10
|FELIX HERNANDEZ||SEAN O'SULLIVAN|
What a comical mismatch on paper. Sean O'Sullivan came up through the Angels system and ended up in Kansas City last July in a trade for Alberto Callaspo. He serves as a swing man for the Royals who up to this point have had no need for a fifth starter. He gets to make his first start of the season opposite Felix Hernandez and probably a peeved Felix after his last outing. Sean O'Sullivan has spent his Spring playing with a declawed kitten and is now about to enter the hexagon against a grizzly bear on amphetamines.
Sun 17 April 11:10
|MICHAEL PINEDA||JEFF FRANCIS*|
The Royals have some quality left-handed bats in Alex Gorden and Kila Ka'aihue and some potentially pesky switch-hitters in Melky Cabrera and Wilson Fucking Betemit so this could pose Michael Pineda's toughest challenge to date.
It's early, but while the results have been fine for Jeff Francis in his first two starts as a Royal, his speed has been down about 2mph across the board. For a guy that topped out in the high-80s, losing another bit of speed should be a worrisome development. It could be early season stuff. It could be pitch f/x miscalibration. It could be nearly anything at this point*, but it is something I will be watching in between drooling over Pineda and throwing things as our offense fails to punish Francis' slop.
*Fun fact: It is not gastroenteritis.
That Francis might be facing legitimate problems reaching 86 and has to take the rubber across from Michael Pineda is funny. Part of me wants to think the Mariners made the Felix-Pineda swap earlier this week just to set this up.