Royals to Face Marlons' Phenom Jose Fernandez

Oh snap - USA TODAY Sports

Can the Sino-Panamanian Sensation outduel the Cuban Phenom?

While I've never really understood why a baseball team has been named after Marlon Wayans, it is high time that I put the befuddlement behind me and move on into the future without dismissing them as a whole for not having been named after an animal or whatever the hell else you name a team after. I guess today is as good a time as any to formally recognize their two World Series Championships, something I long refused to do on account of the silliness of naming a team after a comic actor. Now this grudge that I've held may seem odd, especially since I hold no ill will toward Marlon Wayans himself--in fact, he was surprisingly good in the spectacularly devastating Requiem for a Dream--but I'm a flawed man, and I hold on to petty things like this.

Having gotten this out of the way (and making the Marlons' two World Series official), I have to say it's strange to look at a match-up between the Marlons and the Royals in August could be interesting, especially given the fact that one of the squads sits a resounding 29 games under .500. Shockingly that team hoping to avoid 100 losses isn't the Royals. The Marlons are sending the Cuban phenom Jose Fernandez to the mound. The 21-year-14-day-old rookie righty sports the seventh highest K/9 of any qualified starter in baseball (9.70) and is one of two front-runners for the NL Rookie of the Year Award right alongside fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig (Matt Harvey pitched 59.1 innings in 2012, otherwise the award would likely be his). Fernandez has the 20th highest fWAR and the 11th highest rWAR amongst pitchers despite only having thrown 132.2 IP thus far, a full 17 IP less than the lowest player ahead of him with the exception Anibal Sanchez (125.2 IP, 4.2 fWAR, 3.8 rWAR). Even with a putrid offense behind him--and to be fair to the Marlons, they have been 31 - 32 since they hit their nadir (13 - 41) on May 30th--that has scored 61 fewer runs than the second worse offense in baseball, Royals fans have to worry about playing this team for the sole reason that Jose Fernandez is on the mound. Sure, he's been human on the road, but if we know anything about Kauffman Stadium, it is that home runs are impossible to hit and pitchers don't ever walk anyone because they just have to throw strikes and let the roomy park dimensions take care of the rest.

Fernandez's adversary this evening is none other than the Sino-Panamanian Sensation, Bruce Chen. For his part, Chen has been nothing short of a shut-down craftsman since having been reinserted into the starting rotation. Yes, Chen's ERA does not reflect the fact that while he was working in the pen he allowed nine of 13 inherited runners to score, but the fact remains that since he was put in the rotation on July 12th he has chalked up a 1.14 ERA with a .147/.184/.239 triple-slash allowed with a 5.75 K/BB in 31.2 IP. It is a small sample size, of course, but we're also talking about Chen facing a team that has scored 124 runs fewer than the average team in baseball and 104 fewer than Kansas City. It shocks me to say this when talking about a game in which Bruce Chen is one of the starting pitchers, but you might want to prepare yourselves for a pitchers' duel tonight.

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