Tonight the Kansas City Royals start a series in Chicago taking on the White Sox, who up until this week, had been playing the best ball in the American League. The Chisox have now dropped 4 out of 5, but from what we have seen from this team so far this year, the White Sox are here to stay, and are currently sitting on top of the division. Starting pitching is Chicago’s calling card and has been a weakness for the Royals, so we get a good look at contrasts in the first series this year.
The Royals now play 7 games in 10 days against Chicago, and going 4-3 head to head would be just fine. It’s still way too early in the season for the Royals to worry about making up a lot of ground, there are nearly a season full of division games left. But the fact is the White Sox may have finally arrived, perhaps a year later than expected, but they’re good. This club features a lineup with a some power and maybe a pair of Cy Young candidates in that rotation.
Luckily, the Royals will avoid Chris Sale, who is a strikeout machine, and third in all of baseball in ERA this season. Sale is making history already this year with a 9-0 start and and ERA under 2.00. Sale is just the second pitcher all time to start a season with those numbers and he says he hasn’t pitched his best yet. Sale went the distance Thursday night tossing a 4 hitter in a 2-1 win over the Astros. The royals are 4.5 games back entering this series. Who is the second best pitcher it the rotation? None other than Jose Quintana, who will matchup against Dillon Gee tonight on the south side. Quintana is a 27 year old righty, who does a good job of keeping the ball down in the zone. His numbers are fantastic, as he has only given up one home run all year. Surrendering only 9 earned runs in 8 starts, Quintana has the American League’s lowest ERA at 1.54. That’s some #2 starter and KC has their work cut out for them tonight, especially in a park where you don’t see a lot of home runs. The Royals have lost 12 of 15 on the road but have pretty good numbers against Quintana in the past, with a recent winning record on the road at Chicago.
Saturday, the Royals will see 31 year old Miguel Gonzalez, who has only had three starts, giving up 9 runs in 15 innings. Which would make a Friday night win even better, because the Royals can get after this guy. Then on Sunday, KC will face second year pitcher Carlos Rondon, who has walked too many, and given up 8 home runs. Rondon has a big arm and seems to be one of those guys that is lockdown when he is on, and wild and inefficient when he is not.
Offensively, the Royals are getting better. Lorenzo Cain is starting to hit the ball well even though he is still playing lazily and stupidly, and Eric Hosmer is hitting with power this year. Sal Perez looks like he’s starting to become more consistent but Kendry Morales is still a concern, a sub .200 batting average is unacceptable. All signs are pointing towards this team being more consistent. You would still like to see them not strand so many runners however.
The Royals starting pitching hasn’t been great so you never know what can happen, but avoiding Sale, you have to like their chances to get two of three on the road this weekend. That would be huge, especially when you have four against them at home next week. And while it may be a low bar, the only thing the Royals must do this weekend is find a way to win at least one game.
Next week, well, that will be a series you don’t want to miss.
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