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Series Preview: Kansas City Royals @ Tampa Bay Rays

For some reason I was under the impression that this was a 2-game series. Whoops.

Thursday, 4/29: RHP Luke Hochevar vs. RHP Matt Garza

Friday, 4/30: RHP Brian Bannister vs. RHP Jeff Niemann

Saturday, 5/1: Kyle Davies vs. LHP David Price

Sunday, 5/2: RHP Zack Grienke vs. RHP Wade Davis

How can you hate the Royals? I feel pity for them more than anything; they're in the same position that the (Devil) Rays were in before Friedman and Co. took over - perpetual last place finishers, stuck in neutral with a front-office that has no discernible strategy besides throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks. At least they have a catchy name for their ineptitude, though: The Process. Just trust The Process, man. If you trust It, wins will come...or something like that.

Although the Royals are currently in last place in the AL Central and are projected to win around 76 games this season, they do have some bright spots on their team. Perpetual black-hole Jose Guillen has begun hitting like he's been reincarnated from 2003, hitting 7 home runs so far and posting a .415 wOBA. Joining zombie Guillen is zombie Scott Podsednik, who has so far posted a 2003-ish .387 wOBA and has stolen 8 bases. Don't expect either of them to keep it up for much longer. David DeJesus, Alberto Callaspo, and Billy Butler are actually talented players on this roster, while Alex Gordon is at worst an average third baseman. Their line-up has the eighth highest wOBA in baseball at the moment, so there's hope yet for the Royals.

Their pitching, on the other hand, is an absolute disaster. The Royals have allowed the most runs in the American League and their team Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is the third worst in baseball. Their best pitchers are easily Zack Grienke (3.59 FIP) and Joakim Soria (1.78 FIP), and they don't have many passable options behind those two. Former first-round pick Luke Hochevar has been solid so far this season (3.55 FIP), but he's still working on his command and consistency. Oh, and the bullpen is an absolute disaster with Juan Cruz being the lone passable...wait, they released him? Okay, their bullpen just sucks. 

Questions for the Series:

  • Grienke is going to be tough, but will the Royals' pen be able to hold onto the game for him? So far this season they've lost every game that Grienke has started, blowing their leads late in the game. Here's a fun Joe Poz fact: "Since August 16, 2008, Zack Greinke has made 46 starts and he has a 2.11 ERA. The Royals record in those 46 starts? You betcha: 22-24."
  • Which Hochevar will the Rays see? He's been a ground-ball-inducing monster so far this year, and I have a feeling he'll be the toughest pitcher in this series outside of Grienke. Too bad he's facing Garza.
  • How many runs will we score against their bullpen? I'll set the over/under at 9.5.
  • I can't wait to watch Yuniesky Betancourt in action.