It was just a week ago we had a packed house ready to watch a first place Royals club take on the Mariners to kick off a nine game homestand. Now as we wrap up the homestand, we hope to just keep our head above .500. Ned Yost, you lead me on a roller-coaster of emotions.
Matt Shoemaker goes to the hill tonight for the red hot Angels, winners of six straight. Shoemaker looked like he was just a journeyman career AAA pitcher with nothing impressive as far as stuff. He was effective, but nothing special against the Royals back on May 24, giving up three runs in five innings in a no-decision as the Angels won 7-4 on national television. The 27-year old has enjoyed quite a bit of success since then however. He has refined a splitter-changeup that has become a plus pitch for him, and his four-seam fastball and slider have been good pitches as well. In his last two starts against the Indians and Rangers, he has struck out 16 hitters, while allowing just three runs.
Jason Vargas continues to be a model of consistency and a big feather in Dayton Moore's cap thus far. He has given up more than three runs in a start just three times this year, and has given the Royals a "Quality Start" (6 innings pitched, 3 runs or fewer allowed) in his last six starts. Vargas also has six starts this year where he has gone 110 pitches or more, including three of his last four starts. Only six pitchers in baseball have more such starts, so while Vargas is no spring chicken that needs to be overly protected, the Royals may want to make sure they're not overworking the 31-year old lefty.
EDIT: The Angels have acquired P Jason Grilli from the Pirates for P Ernesto Frieri. Grilli is not at the ballpark yet, so the Angels will have just five relievers - Joe Smith, Mike Morin, David Carpenter, Kevin Jepsen, and Cory Rasmus - available tonight.