After seizing the series lead in a 5 - 0 Game One that was considerably closer than the score might indicate, the Kansas City Royals are set to face off against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays. Maintaining home-field advantage in the series could prove to be vital, as the series could take a decidedly different tone in the extremely hitter-friendly confines of the Rogers Centre.
The Royals send Yordano Ventura, Thrower of Fire, to the mound this afternoon. Ventura's tantalizing repertoire was at the peak of its bipolarity in his Game Four start of the ALDS. Against the similarly powerful Astros, Ventura struck out eight while walking three. He allowed just four hits, but two of those hits were home runs, and pretty big shots at that.
Ventura has the undesirable task of trying to hold down the Blue Jays offense, the highest scoring offense since the 2009 New York Yankees. As Edinson Volquez proved last night, they can be defeated, but it is entirely possible that some sort of dark art factored into his wizardry on the mound.
Ventura's Torontonian counterpart will be American League Cy Young candidate David Price. The left-handed ace has posted a 2.30 ERA since coming over to Toronto, no small feat when playing half your games in a bandbox, and his 2.22 FIP, 2.89 xFIP, and 2.91 SIERA would seem to indicate that his success has been real and not the product of luck.
Of course, Price has not been the same dominant pitcher in his postseason career as a starter, including this season, as the Rangers scored five earned against Price in Game One of the ALDS, and pushed another three earned across in three puzzling innings of relief--why not save your ace for an actual start in Game Five?--in Game Four. Whether Price does or does not have the confidence of his manager, John Gibbons, is immaterial. He is today's starter and postseason struggles of great players generally owe to the cruel stroke of insufficient sample size and facing the best teams of that season.
The visiting Blue Jays will field the following line-up against Ventura:
The Royals will align themselves thusly:
This will be a WAR!