The Angels are coming off their first series loss of the year as they head to Kansas City. The Royals just dropped 2 of 3 from Oakland and were swept by the Twins in their opening series of 2017.
This series marks the starts of a 7 game road trip and a 17 game stretch with no days off. This is where the rubber meets the road.
As a team, the Royals have the second worst team ERA in the league - surprisingly, just ahead of the Indians, and they have a league worst WHIP. If not for Danny Duffy, Jason Vargas, and a few others, their pitching staff would be even more bleak. In relief appearances, the Royals have a 7.86 ERA with 2 blown saves in two chances. Of course, Angels starters don’t fare a whole lot better and have given up twice as many homeruns, but their bullpen has been significantly stronger (so far) than the Royals.
The Angels have a team batting average that is 86 points higher than the Royals and they lead the league at a .276 while the Mendoza Royals are sitting ugly at .199. The Royals have only scored 24 runs in 9 games, compared to the Angels 47. There is not much of a question which team has a better offense going into this series. Arguably, these two teams are two of the top in terms of defense in the AL.
In 2016, the Angels beat the Royals 5 games to 1 in their matchups.
Question: Are the Angels sliding toward .500 or just a blip?
JC Ramirez v. Danny Duffy
Friday, April 14th @ 5:15PM
Ramirez gets his first of many? starts
Pitchers vs. Batters:
Duffy has been hard on the Angels. Andrelton Simmons, Albert Pujols, Carlos Perez, Danny Espinosa, and Kole Calhoun are a combined 0 for 19 against him. CJ Cron and Yunel Escobar are each just 1 for 6. Of course, Mike Trout has done pretty well hitting off Duffy. Duffy has also been pitching well in his 2 starts so far this year, allowed only 3 runs through 13 innings of work.
Ramirez hasn’t faced the Royals much and he has never started a big league game. Ramirez started a few games in the spring and in his last start of 4.2 innings, he gave up 5 run to the Royals.
Verdict: Probably going to need a huge offensive game to pull off a win here. Probably the toughest game of the series.
Matt Shoemaker v. Nathan Karns
Saturday, April 15th @ 4:15PM
Need a good start from the Cobbler here
Pitchers vs. Batters:
Well, Matt Shoemaker hasn’t made it past the 5th inning in either of his starts so far. He’s given up 3 homeruns and 8 ER in 9.1 innings. He has also walked as many as he has struck out (5). The last time he faced the Royals was July 20th and he lost that game by giving up 5 runs in 6 innings. Remember last year, when Shoemaker started out a bit slow but then got rolling? Yeah, I’m waiting for that to happen any day now... Let’s hope Perez doesn’t continue his ownage of the Cobbler.
Nathan Karns had a rude welcome to 2017 when the Twins scored 4 runs off him in just .2 innings after he came on in relief during the 7th inning. Karns needed 27 pitches to make it through those 2 outs. Karns then started his first game of the year against the Astros, and although the Royals blew it, he only gave up 1 run (a homerun to George Springer) through 5.2 innings. Karns faced the Angels last on May 13th, 2016 and was handed a loss after giving up 3 runs through 6.1 IP.
Verdict: I’m going with a Shoemaker ace-like job here and an Angels win.
Tyler Skaggs v. Ian Kennedy
Sunday, April 16th @ 11:15AM
Skaggs needs this one since he’s coming off back to back bad starts
Pitchers vs. Batters
I’m no professional baseball person or anything, but I think giving up 5 runs in back to back 5 inning starts is not a good thing. Skaggs is still trying to figure it out this season and hopefully he finds his groove against the Royals whose current roster hasn’t seen him all that much. Last July, Skaggs shut out the Royals over 7 innings and struck out 5. Note - the below art is actually by a guy named Tyler Skaggs. I want to believe too Tyler. I want to believe.
Cameron Maybin has seen Kennedy the most and has pretty good success with him. Albert Pujols has done really well against Kennedy with 3 long balls in just 13 AB. Kennedy is off to a decent start, holding the Twins to 3 runs and A’s to 2 runs. However, he has walked 7 and given up 9 hits in those 11 innings. Last year, Kennedy lost to the Angels both times he faced them, thanks in large part to Pujols who was 3 for 6 in those games against Kennedy with 2 homeruns.
Verdict: Game three is pretty much a toss up.
Overall Verdict: Angels have the best shot in game 2 with their toughest matchup to start the series against Duffy. The Royals aren’t playing well overall though, so the Angels may come out of this with a series victory.