RED HOT KANSAS CITY NOW POISED FOR RUN AT THE PLAYOFFS…HOSTING OAKLAND TUESDAY
After the games of Monday Night July 21, the Kansas City Royals were 48-50, and seemingly had little chance to make a run at the playoffs. They had already fizzled after an earlier hot streak. And, it’s very hard to rise up to 15 or 20 games over .500 when you’re sitting below the .500 mark as you approach 100 games (out of 162 in a full-season schedule).
And they were trailing powerhouse Detroit!
It just wasn’t going to happen. And, then, maybe it did!
- Kansas City won its last 2 games at the Chicago White Sox
- Kansas City went 3-1 in a four-game set vs. Cleveland
- Kansas City went 2-1 against Minnesota
- Kansas City went 2-1 on the ROAD against powerhouse Oakland
- Kansas City went 3-0 on the ROAD against Arizona
- Kansas City went 3-0 vs. NL West contender San Francisco
Entering the current series against the A’s, Kansas City had gone 15-3 its prior 18 games, had gone 5-1 against other playoff contenders, and had posted a 7-1 record on the road. They were right on the heels of Detroit at the top of the AL Central after seeming too far back to matter just a few weeks earlier.
Now, you can’t expect a team to maintain a pace like THAT forever. It’s not like 15-3 is going to turn into 30-6 over the next few weeks. But, what’s so noticeable when you study the KC schedule is that this current series with Oakland is one of only THREE left ALL YEAR against serious playoff contenders. That’s amazing considering how many teams are in races right now.
Kansas City is playing Oakland now, and will have home-and-home matchups against Detroit in September (3 in Detroit September 8-10, 3 in KC September 19-21). And, that’s going to be it vs. contenders unless the New York Yankees get hot in the AL East. The Royals visit the Bronx over the first weekend of September.
Numerically…42 games to go after this Oakland series ends. Six vs. Detroit. Three vs. the Yankees. And 33 vs. non-contenders!
The Royals should have their hands full Tuesday Night because they’ll be facing an ace caliber pitcher. Let’s run some numbers!
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Oakland: 4.90 runs per game, .327 on-base, .399 slugging
Kansas City: 4.07 runs per game, .312 on-base, .378 slugging
We’ve talked all year about the great Oakland offense. They’re now averaging almost five runs per game despite playing home games in a pitcher’s park. They did trade some pop away recently to get more pitching. And, a slugging percentage below .400 could prove to be an issue in the postseason. Still, a WOW performance thus far in run scoring. Kansas City has struggled most of the season. The Royals are third worst in the AL in on-base percentage, and fourth worst in slugging. It’s been clear this year that they win when they get runs on the board. Can they maintain their recent hot streak long enough to earn a playoff bid?
Jon Lester: 2.44 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 9.1 K-Rate
Jeremy Guthrie: 4.35 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 5.8 K-Rate
Lester just shut out Minnesota, letting Oakland know that he’s ready to lead them into the playoffs as the ace of their staff. Though, facing red hot Kansas City on the road will give him a much better feel of what playoff baseball as a member of the Oakland A’s is going to feel like. He’s a veteran of postseason wars with the Red Sox, so he’ll likely be up to the task. Guthrie’s numbers are disappointing in a “year of the pitcher.” He just threw well vs. Arizona…but that was against a team in the inferior league. Clear edge to Lester, who’s pitching for the team with the superior offense. Handicappers will have to determine if Vegas oddsmakers have correctly captured that advantage in the line.
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One more baseball preview tomorrow in the NOTEBOOK, and then it’s back to NFL Preaseason action…
Wednesday: MLB TV Preview: NY Yankees at Baltimore on ESPN
Thursday: AFC South Preview (Jacksonville/Chicago on ESPN)
Friday: AFC East Preview: (New England hosts Philadelphia on NFL Network)
Saturday: AFC North Preview: (Baltimore/Dallas on NFL Network)
Sunday: AFC West Preview: (Denver/SF on NFLN, Kansas City/Carolina on FOX)
Monday: NFL Big Game Preview: Johnny Manziel vs. RGIII in Cleveland/Washington!
Enjoy the big series in Kansas City. And, don’t forget that only one handicapper has been giving his clients THE ROYAL TREATMENT for more than 25 years. That’s WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!
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