Royals series preview: Missing Shields, catching another unknown

The Rays will face "Old Man Righty" (no one calls him that) - Ed Zurga

Also missing Elliot Johnson.

The Rays and the Royals are linked by one of the larger trades of the past few years, with Wade Davis and James Shields now plying their trade in Kansas City, while Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi toil in the Trop. Add David DeJesus, once a face of the Royals franchise, to the mix, and this series is a veritable homecoming. All that's missing is Elliot Johnson (someone should invite him, just for old-time's sake).

Fortunately for the Rays, they won't go up against Shields this time, and will instead face veterans Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie, plus rookie Yordana Ventura.

Here is an interactive graph of batter-pitcher matchup projections for every game of the series. The matchup projections come from a tool I made with Jason Hanselman (Dock of the Rays) that incorporates Bojan Koprivica's research on regressing platoon splits and ZiPS projections. The grey line is at an average wOBA.

Remember that these projections are wOBA (not park-neutral)* so the overall marks will underrate the Rays and overrate the Royals. Matchup projections will even out a bit.

*Nope, still haven't adjusted.

LHP Matt Moore (3.92 FIP, 342 IP) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (4.41 FIP,  986 IP), 8:10

Moorevargas_medium

Until I looked at these graphs, I hadn't realized how lefty-heavy the KC lineup is after Billy Butler. In that light, Danny Valencia was a quality pickup for them this offseason. It will be interesting to see whether they get him in there for Mike Moustakas, or give him some run in either the outfield or at second base, as he's likely their third best hitter against Moore.

As for Vargas, he's a normal lefty, but he doesn't have the same extra-wide split that Joe Saunders did. I expect Maddon to sit Matt Joyce but play James Loney.

RHP Chris Archer (3.86 FIP, 164 IP) vs. RHP Yordana Ventura (4.16 FIP Steamer projection), 8:10

Archerventura_medium

For the second week in a row, the Rays will face a rookie pitcher for the first time. Ventura, though, is probably a bit more major-league ready. Steamer projects him to be about 4% below league average, so that's what I've used here.

RHP Jake Odorizzi (4.06 FIP, 43 IP) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (4.75 FIP, 1419 IP), 2:10

Odorizziguthrie_medium

Guthrie is something of a rarity: a righty with a wide split. It's not often that you should expect DeJesus to out-hit Wil Myers, but Wednesday is that day.

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