The Kansas City Royals will get a chance to avenge yesterday's difficult loss against the Boston Red Sox as the teams will play twice on Sunday. The two teams were scheduled to meet on Friday, but the game was postponed due to the manhunt for suspect number two in the Boston Marathon Bombing.
Winning at least one of the games would be comforting for Kansas City fans, as nobody wants to head to Detroit to face the Tigers coming off a three-game sweep. A pair of wins today would help soothe over some of the frustration many fans experienced yesterday watching the offense squander opportunities and the bullpen blow a lead.
Ervin Santana will pitch for the Royals in the first game. He will face Ryan Dempster in a battle between a pitcher that many around here wanted Kansas City to acquire versus one of the pitchers they did acquire. Neither the Red Sox or the Royals are currently experiencing buyers regret, as both starters have looked sharp early in the season.
Santana is not going to sustain his shiny 2.45 ERA for much longer. He is currently stranding 93 percent of runners that reach base against him, a number that is 20 percent higher than league average. The right-handed starter has shown signs of bouncing back from his disastrous season last year, as he is currently striking out more batters than 2012 while walking less.
Dempster has pitched very well in his first three starts for Boston, as he currently owns a 2.65 ERA. The former Chicago Cub currently has a ridiculously high strikeout percentage, as he has fanned 36.8% of the batters who have come to the plate. Dempster's swinging strike percentage, a statistic that stabilizes more quickly than K%, is also up 5%, which suggests some of the increased strikeout numbers reflects genuine improvement instead of small-sample distortion.
Jeremy Guthrie will face Allen Webster in the second game of the day. Guthrie's early season line is all sorts of unsustainable; he has a LOB% of 100% and a BABIP of .208 and a HR/FB% of 23.8%. The Stormin' Mormon has shown an increased penchant for striking hitters out this season, but his swinging strike percentage is the same as it has been in the past, which suggests the improvement is mostly a mirage. Guthrie appears to be the same pitcher he has always been, so as long has he gets his home-runs under control, he should be fine.
Webster is making his major-league today, which almost certainly means certain doom for Kansas City hitters. The Los Angeles Dodgers traded the 23 year-old right-handed pitcher to the Boston Red Sox in the deal that sent Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto(!) to LA. Webster is a converted shortstop who does not have a ton of pitching experience, making his minor-league success quite impressive.
Mike Newman of Fangraphs wrote a brief scouting report on the pitcher, reprinted below to give you some background on the rookie:
Capable of competing with any pitching prospect in baseball for four innings, Webster's stuff has fallen off a cliff the two times I've scouted him forcing me to question whether or not he's a starter in the end. Early in games, Webster presents with four usable pitches including a fastball with sink. 2012 saw him add velocity as well working full innings at 94-96 MPH, touching 98, albeit with a bit too much effort for comfort. It's difficult to not become enamored with his ground ball heavy arsenal and envision Webster as a rotation stalwart. However, Webster is going to have to add size to a frame which is more video game wizard than pitching prospect. And with his slim frame, I'm just not sure how much he will be able to add.
Newman also wrote a more in-depth scouting report with video of Webster back when the starter was pitching in the Dodgers' system.
Both games will be televised today on FSKC. The first game starts at 12:30 p.m. CT, while the second game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. CT. The Royals called Will Smith up from Triple-A Omaha for the games today, as the rules allow for an extra player on the roster for double-headers.
Boston enters Sunday's double-header having won their previous seven games, which included series sweeps over the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays. It would be nice for Kansas City to end that winning streak, and potentially start one of ther own.