The Houston Astros (19-32) and Kansas City Royals (24-25) will wrap up their season series this week at Kauffman Stadium. Earlier in the season, the Royals visited Minute Maid Park, enjoying a 3-game sweep of the Astros. In that series, Houston was outscored 15-7. Over the weekend, the Astros split a 4-game series with the Mariners while the Royals dropped two of their three against the Los Angeles Angels.
For this post, we had the opportunity to collaborate with a member of Kings of Kauffman. David Hill has participated in a Q&A session with us to contribute to this series preview.
Yordano Ventura (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Q & A
CTH: Rookie sensation Yordano Ventura gets the start in the first game of the series. How much fun has he been for Royals fans this year?
D.Hill: It has been a treat watching Ventura this season. His starts have become must watch television amongst Royals fans, akin to when Greinke was in the midst of his Cy Young award run. Of course, being referred to as a mini Pedro Martinez or having Nolan Ryan refer to him as ‘the total package’ doesn’t hurt. Ventura already looks like a potential ace, and it has been great watching the first few weeks of his career.
CTH: Eric Hosmer had four hits in Saturday’s extra-inning win over the Angels. Is he finally starting to heat up?
D.Hill: Hosmer has traditionally started off slowly, struggling in April and May before getting into a groove in June. Over his career, Hosmer has a .250/.323/.365 batting line during March/April and a .261/.299/.393 batting line in May. He just seems to be one of those players who starts slowly and begins to heat up along with the weather. Hopefully, that four hit game is a sign that his bat will be heating up soon.
CTH: Mike Moustakas was recently sent to AAA Omaha and the Royals called up our old friend Jimmy Paredes. First of all, do you expect Moustakas to be back in KC soon? Secondly, can Jimmy Paredes really help the club?
D.Hill: In all honesty, Moustakas likely needs a lot of time at AAA. His swing, as well as his head, is in complete disarray. Yost can claim that he was sent down due to his body language all he wants, but the fact of the matter is that Moustakas has done virtually nothing in his 1500 major league at bats to justify the chances he has received. His swing, and now his head, need to be completely reworked. However, since common sense would dictate that Moustakas needs to get himself fixed before returning, it probably means that the Royals will rush him back in a couple of weeks.
Paredes could end up being a bit of a help. His positional versatility could allow the Royals to give a couple of players a day or two off, and his ability to play in the middle of the infield gives the Royals an insurance policy. However, I expect that he will be sent down once Omar Infante is ready to be activated.
CTH: Which player has been the most pleasant surprise for the 2014 Royals?
D.Hill: For me, the most pleasant surprise for the Royals has been Wade Davis. When Luke Hochevar was injured and Davis was put into that eighth inning role, it seemed like a recipe for disaster. Instead, Davis has been a strikeout machine, with a 16.11 K/9 rate. He has found his role on the Royals, and while he may be a bit nerve wracking at times, he has been quite a force in the eighth.
CTH: Can this team make a playoff run as currently configured, or is ther a particular area that Dayton Moore needs to address to get them over the hump?
D.Hill: If, and that is a big if, the lineup can produce as it had been hoped at the start of the year, the Royals could hang around the edges of the playoffs. However, they desperately need to have an impact bat in the middle of the lineup, Maybe Hosmer and Billy Butler are breaking out of their malaise and can start driving the ball. Maybe Danny Valencia is really the answer, even if it is short term, at third. I would doubt that though. The Royals have the feel of a team that will be around .500 all year, which will be a major disappointment after last season.
Big thanks to David Hill, Editor at FanSided’s Kings of Kauffman, for climbing the hill and fielding some questions.
HOU: Scott Feldman (2-2, 3.02)
KCR: Yordano Ventura (2-4, 2.80)
Feldman enjoyed a solid string of outings prior to a stint on the disabled list. Should he and the Astros rebound, he will have to limit the damage and the Astros will need to be patient against a young flamethrower. Ventura has the ability to pitch well but is erratic and inefficient at times.
HOU: Collin McHugh (2-3, 3.32)
KCR: Jeremy Guthrie (2-3, 4.39)
McHugh swallowed a tough loss in his last outing in which he threw 7 innings of 2-run ball. The Astros have lost his last four starts, so perhaps he needs a scoreless outing to earn a dub this time around. The Royals’ Guthrie recently had a similar outing, 7 innings of 1-run ball, but did not get a decision in the game.
HOU: Jarred Cosart (3-4, 4.39)
KCR: Danny Duffy (2-4, 2.59)
Cosart followed McHugh with a tough luck loss of his own against Seattle. Although he walked four batters, he did give up just three earned runs in 6 and 1/3 innings of work. A match-up against Duffy will likely require the Astros to be at their best. But Duffy did get roughed up in his last start against the Angels giving up five runs in his six innings of work. That game featured the first homers he has allowed in 67 2/3 this season, so perhaps George Springer will provide a spark for the Astros on Wednesday afternoon.
George Springer (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)
The sweep from a couple of weeks ago included a struggling Astros offense and a game started by Lucas Harrell. With Jose Altuve leading the MLB in hits and Springer being on fire of late, the Astros offense has a solid 1-2 combination. Should the rest of the batting order continue to produce, the Astros could win another series.