It will be the top three in the pitching rotation this weekend, which bodes well for the Royals (assuming Yordano Ventura keeps his composure) as they take on a Chicago White Sox team that is still trying to find their groove after a very busy offseason. The White Sox sit at 6-8 and are underperforming based on their offseason acquisitions, while the Royals continue their hot start, sitting at 11-4 and atop the AL Central.
If you haven’t read any of my series previews before, heres how it will go: I’ll break down each game and their pitching match-ups and try to sound somewhat knowledgable, then give an arbitrary prediction that will be way out of left field. Sound good? Great, let’s go then.
Game 1: Ventura vs. Sale
It’s Ace versus Ace in the series opener, as Ventura looks to complete more than six innings for the first time this season. The last two outings have been rough for the young gun, as he’s incited a bench clearing in one, and got ejected in the other. Let’s hope he’s moved on from both of those, because he’ll need to bring his A-Game against Chris Sale tonight.
Chris Sale has been his usual self thus far, as he’s started the season 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA and 14 strikeouts. He has a combined total of 18 runs of support in both games, giving him a comfortable to spot to pitch out of on the mound. The Royals have faired decently well against Sale the past three years, going 6-6 with a 2.75 batting average. I don’t expect the Royals to do much against him early, but we could see another middle-to-late inning rally to get him out of the game.
Until Ventura can get himself under control and start throwing fire like we all know he can, I won’t be placing much faith in him. Sale is pitching pretty darn well up to this point, and I have a feeling he will tonight, as well. It is interesting to note however that the Royals have yet to lose a series opener this year. Still, give me the White Sox in game one.
Prediction: White Sox, 3-1
Game 2: Duffy vs. Quintana
Watching Danny Duffy this year should be interesting. I don’t think he has reached the level at which he’s capable of pitching, but I have no doubt that he can get there by the end of the season. He’s posting a 5.51 ERA so far, and has really struggled to command his pitches. He hasn’t been able to go very deep into games, as two of his three starts he pitched just 5 innings. Although the Royals won all three contests he’s pitched in, two of those were come from behind wins.
Quintana hasn’t fared very well this year, as he’s sporting a pretty gruesome 8.40 ERA. The Royals already faced him earlier in the season, in which they won 7-5 at Kauffman Stadium. Quintana is 0-6 against the Royals since 2012, so this matchup doesn’t bode well for him. I expect the Royals to hit him early and hard in this game.
Both Duffy and Quintana are prone to giving up runs, so this should be a fairly high scoring affair.
Prediction: 5-3, Royals
Game 3: Volquez vs. Danks
Edison Volquez has been surprisingly good this year, and far better than everyone expected. The bottom three in the rotation are the weakest link to this Royals team, but if Volquez keeps putting up good numbers, that’s one less pitcher we have to worry about. He’s 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA, and has some big help from the defense in all of his starts. Volquez has been able to pitch more than seven innings in all of his starts, an attribute we all appreciate.
John Danks has been the Royals kryptonite, as they are just 1-7 against him, that sole win coming this year. Danks hasn’t had the best start this year though, as he has a 6.06 ERA and just 8 strikeouts. He’s allowed at least three runs in each of his starts, and until he starts to turn things around, this game shouldn’t be any different.
The Royals got their first win against Danks back in April, and I think they get their second one here.
Prediction: 4-1, Royals
Game 4: Vargas vs. Noesi
Jason Vargas has been pretty underwhelming this year, sitting at 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA. He was lights outs for the Royals last year, and had some pretty solid starts in the back half of the rotation. I’m not sure what happened during the offseason, but the Royals could really afford a “flipped switch” from him, and this series is a great time to make that happen.
Hector Noesi has struggled early much like the rest of the Chicago startes, with a 0-2 record and a 5.23 ERA. He was roughed up in both of his starts in April, allowing 4 runs against Cleveland on April 21, and allowing 6 walks against Minnesota on April 10. He’s 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA against the Royals since 2012, and with his current trend, the offense should be able to get things going in the series finale.
Prediction: 6-4, Royals
This should be a pretty good series to watch, and provides the Royals a chance to separate themselves even further in the division. They’ll need to keep pace with Detroit, and that means taking care of teams like Chicago. I can see the possibility of them winning game 1 and losing game 3, but I think the second and last heavily favor of the boys in blue. Either way, they win the series 3-1, and are looking good heading into next week.