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Royals series preview: The Houston Astros

The best team in baseball comes to the K.

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Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The best team in baseball is coming to the K. The Astros’ 41-16 record is by far the best in baseball, six games better than the next best team. They have outscored opponents by 102 runs this year. They are in the middle of a ten-game winning streak, and have won their last ten road games as well. This could get ugly.

The game times and matchups are as follows:

  • Monday, June 5, 7:15 PM CDT - Mike Fiers (R) versus Ian Kennedy (R)
  • Tuesday, June 6, 7:15 PM CDT - David Paulino (R) versus TBA (Jake Junis?)
  • Wednesday, June 7, 7:15 PM CDT - Dallas Keuchel (L) versus Jason Vargas (L)
  • Thursday, June 8, 7:15 PM CDT - Lance McCullers (R) versus Jason Hammel (R)

Astros at Royals 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
Mike Fiers 10 52.2 46 19.7 20 8.6 4.96 6.93 4.47 4.45 -0.8 -0.2
Ian Kennedy 9 45.2 40 20.9 23 12.0 5.12 5.43 5.15 4.89 -0.1 0.2
David Paulino 1 4.0 8 47.1 1 5.9 4.50 3.04 1.09 1.58 0.1 0.1
TBA - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dallas Keuchel (L) 11 75.2 69 24.4 18 6.4 1.67 3.00 2.77 2.95 1.9 3.2
Jason Vargas (L) 11 69.1 54 19.7 16 5.8 2.08 3.16 4.37 4.27 1.8 2.9
Lance McCullers Jr. 12 69.2 81 28.2 21 7.3 2.71 2.96 2.66 2.94 1.8 1.6
Jason Hammel 11 57.2 47 17.7 23 8.7 5.93 4.79 5.33 4.89 0.3 -0.3

Drawing both Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers in the series is less than ideal for the Royals. Keuchel has the lowest ERA in baseball amongst qualified starters. Some of his success owes to his .222 BABIP, but he also throws the fewest pitches in the zone of any qualified pitcher and induces more grounders than anyone else. That he doesn’t walk many despite not throwing many actual strikes is a minor miracle, but it probably owes to craftiness. McCullers, on the other hand, gets by on sheer filth.

Rookie David Paulino will make his second start of the season for Houston. His first only lasted four innings but saw him strike out eight while walking just one. Mike Fiers has been cromulent.

Astros 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
José Altuve 2B 238 8 39 28 11 .329 .395 .526 .391 150 2.4 2.8
Carlos Correa SS 223 10 37 38 0 .310 .381 .523 .382 144 2.1 2.3
George Springer CF 231 14 41 34 0 .272 .345 .515 .366 133 1.7 1.9
Marwin Gonzalez (S) Util 159 12 25 34 3 .313 .408 .634 .433 179 1.7 1.6
Jake Marisnick OF 81 6 17 10 5 .268 .358 .549 .385 146 0.9 1.4
Josh Reddick (L) RF 204 6 32 22 2 .266 .330 .435 .327 107 0.9 0.9
Brian McCann (L) C 147 6 14 25 1 .242 .354 .411 .331 110 0.7 0.7
Evan Gattis C/DH 138 4 18 24 0 .287 .355 .451 .347 120 0.7 0.7
Alex Bregman 3B 210 6 21 20 4 .254 .316 .413 .315 98 0.2 0.3
Carlos Beltran (S) DH 198 7 26 21 0 .255 .303 .429 .314 98 -0.1 0.0
Yulieski Gurriel 1B 184 4 20 20 0 .260 .299 .393 .299 88 -0.1 0.1
Nori Aoki (L) LF 131 1 11 8 3 .256 .308 .316 .272 69 -0.3 0.2

The Astros are the highest scoring offense in baseball. Their 120 wRC+ outpaces their nearest competitor by a full five points. They are slashing .277/.345/.467 with a .347 wOBA. The bulk of the Royals lineup wishes their line on the season was as good as the entire Astros’ team combined. In terms of fWAR, only the Nationals and Reds have been better than the Astros’ 10.9 mark, and both of them have enjoyed their success thanks to stronger defensive performances than the Astros. It should come as no surprise that their attack has been spearheaded by the triumvirate of José Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer. More surprising? Marwin Gonzalez’s breakout.

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference through action on Wednesday, May 17.

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Poll

How will the Royals fare against the Astros?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Royals sweep
    (20 votes)
  • 3%
    Royals take three of four
    (12 votes)
  • 17%
    Series split
    (70 votes)
  • 46%
    Astros take three of four
    (182 votes)
  • 26%
    Astros sweep
    (105 votes)
389 votes total Vote Now