If you had told me back in March that on October 28, the Kansas City Royals would have home-field advantage in the World Series, down 3-2 and heading home to Kansas City, I would have punched you in the mouth for lying to my face. Once you had gone through your long explanation of how the flux capacitor made time travel possible, and it had taken 1.21 jiggowatts from some stolen plutonium from the Libyans to travel to the future, and had grabbed a Sports Almanac while there, I would have kissed you on the mouth in joy that the Royals had done the unthinkable and had a very real chance of winning a championship.
And yet, after the 11-4 blowout on Saturday, and the Madison Bumgarner coronation on Sunday, Royals nation seems to be reeling for a punch in the gut, with little hope that the Royals can bounce back in this series. Why?
First of all, toss momentum out the door. The Royals had momentum, but it quickly evaporated in the blink of a Game 4 pitching change. The Giants have momentum now, but guess what? Momentum quickly evaporates.
Looking at things objectively, Fangraphs gives the Royals a 26.3% chance of winning the World Series at this point. This is primarily because the Giants have a 3-2 lead, and I presume because the Giants are considered the better team. We get it, these Royals were a bit fluky, especially when you look at their losing third-order winning percentage.
But these are also not insurmountable odds. The Giants had a pythag of 87-75, and a third-order winning percentage of .543, or 88-74 over a 162 game season. They're not exactly the 1927 Yankees. Their best starting pitcher, the one with the 0.29 career ERA in the World Series, will not make another start in the World Series. While he may be available for three innings of relief for Game 7, a Madison Bumgarner on two days rest will be a much less-effective Madison Bumgarner.
Instead, the season comes down to the following two pitching matchups:
Game 6: Jake Peavy vs. Yordano Ventura
Game 7: Tim Hudson vs. Jeremy Guthrie
That doesn't seem so daunting, does it? The Game 6 matchup should favor the Royals, as Kansas City got to Peavy in Game 2 and Peavy's 4.11 FIP is much inferior to Yordano's 3.60 FIP this year. Indeed, Las Vegas has the Royals as a favorite in Game 6 at -140 (a bettor would have to bet $140 to win $100 on the Royals).
So this could very well all come down to Game 7. Hudson outpaces Guthrie's FIP quite a bit, but you have to think Jeremy will be on quite a short leash. If he falters at all, you could see James Shields or Brandon Finnegan, or heck, even Jayson Nix. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN GAME 7. It is a game in which all hands are on deck, in which everyone is available, in which you throw everything including the kitchen sink at the opponent. It could very well be a coin flip game at that point, and we know how well the Royals play in coin-flip games.
The odds are not on the Royals side, but the odds haven't been on the Royals' side all season. They finished dead last in the league in home runs and walks, they score a pitiful amount of runs, they've been blessed by the BABIP fairy all year, they shouldn't be here.
And yet, they won't go home. Not yet. They've been the party-crasher all year, and they're not leaving til Fangraphs lists their odds of winning the World Series at 0.0%.
So let's go win one for the Gipper!