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Royals series preview: St. Petersburg Devil Rays

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The Cold War heats back up

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Russia Commemorates 70th Anniversary Of Victory Day
The St. Petersburg Rays’ oligarch owner throws a parade in his own honor in advance of the Royals coming to Russia
Photo by Host photo agency / RIA Novosti via Getty Images

With Vladimir Putin looking for any opportunity to assert Russian dominance in the sphere of sport, the arrival of the Kansas City Royals to St. Petersburg presents him with a unique, four-game opportunity to fuel the propaganda machine. Four games in which a once great team—one just a year removed from being World Series champions—comes to Mother Russia performing at levels dramatically worse than they were when they had vanquished all comers.

Now, as reports roll in that the Royals were subjected to hours-long waits at customs at Pulkovo Airport. Speculation ran rampant that the diligent customs agents pored over their belongings at the behest of the Russian President.

Frustrated and feeling uncharacteristically impotent after his attempts to sway the results of the French election fell significantly short this weekend, President Putin appears to have been pulling out all the stops, forcing the Royals to sit through his special cut of Rocky IV where Ivan Drago is reframed as the hero of the story (culminating in the defeat of American ego and excess presented in the vessel of Apollo Creed) while they waited with neither food nor drink detained at customs.

The series aligns itself thusly:

  • Monday, May 8, 6:10 PM CDT - Nate Karns vs. Blake Snell (L)
  • Tuesday, May 9, 6:10 PM CDT - Chris Young (?) vs. Matt Andriese
  • Wednesday, May 10, 6:10 PM CDT - Jason Hammel vs. Chris Archer
  • Thursday, May 11, 12:10 PM CDT - Jason Vargas (L) vs. Jake Odorizzi

Royals at Devil Rays pitching matchups

Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Nate Karns 6 29.0 26 21.5 10 8.3 4.97 5.03 3.77 3.77 0.0 0.1
Blake Snell (L) 6 31.1 27 19.3 21 15.0 3.45 4.94 5.14 5.31 0.1 -0.3
Chris Young (?) 7 10.2 7 13.2 4 7.6 4.22 4.31 5.27 4.57 0.0 -0.2
Matt Andriese 6 35.0 30 20.6 13 8.9 3.09 4.63 3.96 4.16 0.1 0.3
Jason Hammel 6 27.2 25 19.2 15 11.5 5.53 3.97 5.07 4.83 0.4 -0.1
Chris Archer 7 45.1 48 25.7 16 5.6 3.57 3.15 3.83 3.70 1.0 0.4
Jason Vargas (L) 6 37.2 35 23.8 7 4.8 1.19 2.12 3.49 3.45 1.4 1.9
Jake Odorizzi 5 25.0 20 21.3 4 4.3 2.88 4.60 3.72 3.73 0.1 0.3

These four St. Petersburg hurlers lay down their hammers and sickles to serve Mother Russia. The added wrinkle that Karns and Odorizzi are turncoats in this battle only fans the flame of nationalistic fervor.

Devil Rays position players

Player Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Player Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Steven Souza Jr. RF 136 4 14 19 0 .284 .385 .457 .369 143 1.4 1.5
Corey Dickerson (L) DH/LF 124 6 14 11 0 .304 .350 .539 .377 148 1.0 1.3
Tim Beckham SS 113 6 15 15 1 .264 .295 .500 .336 119 0.9 1.0
Logan Morrison (L) 1B 110 7 15 18 0 .263 .364 .516 .379 150 0.8 0.9
Evan Longoria 3B 137 4 15 14 0 .225 .307 .392 .299 93 0.6 0.8
Daniel Robertson IF 59 3 5 6 1 .191 .345 .383 .328 114 0.5 0.6
Jesus Sucre C 32 1 2 7 1 .233 .281 .333 .272 74 0.3 -0.1
Kevin Kiermaier (L) CF 139 1 15 6 5 .205 .297 .270 .259 65 0.2 0.8
Brad Miller (L) 2B 131 1 16 10 3 .190 .351 .305 .302 95 0.2 0.3
Rickie Weeks Jr. 1B/DH 60 1 8 3 0 .163 .317 .286 .284 82 0.1 0.2
Derek Norris C 95 2 7 10 1 .209 .263 .314 .254 61 0.0 0.1
Colby Rasmus (L) LF 15 1 2 3 0 .154 .267 .385 .287 84 0.0 0.1
Peter Bourjos OF 46 1 5 5 2 .190 .261 .247 .247 56 -0.2 -0.2

As a squad, the Russian nine are hitting a combined .235/.323/.393 with a .314 wOBA and 104 wRC+. The 6.0 fWAR they’ve amassed make them the fourth-best group of position players in baseball through the season’s first five weeks. Vladimir Putin must be proud.

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.

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Poll

How will the Royals fare in Russia?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Royals sweep, winning four for America
    (11 votes)
  • 10%
    Royals take three of four, a modest victory for America
    (7 votes)
  • 14%
    Royals and Rays split series, keeping the war cold
    (10 votes)
  • 26%
    Rays win three, Putin only sends half the team to a gulag
    (18 votes)
  • 11%
    Rays sweep, Putin erects statue in his own honor with footnote about the series
    (8 votes)
  • 19%
    Putin
    (13 votes)
67 votes total Vote Now