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Royals series preview: The Los Angeles Dodgers

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Hold onto yer butts.

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MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals venture into Dodger Stadium to face the white-hot Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers trail the Astros by half a game for the best record in baseball. Since May 25, the Dodgers are 31-9, running their record to 29 games over .500.

They are really good.

Alex McDonald of numberFire shot the probabilities for the Royals over via email. They are as follows:

In our numberFire Power Rankings, we have Kansas City as the 21st ranked team in the MLB with a 23.2% chance to make the postseason. We also have the Royals projected to finished with a 80-82 record this season.

Additionally, here is a quick preview for the three games against Los Angeles. In the first game of the series, we give the Royals a 40.2% chance to win tonight. In the second game, a 33.68% win probability. And in the third game, a 37.52% win probability.

The game times and pitching matchups are as follows:

  • Friday, July 7, 9:10 PM CDT - Jason Hammel versus Kenta Maeda
  • Saturday, July 8, 6:15 PM CDT - Ian Kennedy versus Brandon McCarthy
  • Sunday, July 8, 3:15 PM CDT - Danny Duffy (L) versus Clayton Kershaw (L)

Royals at Dodgers 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
Jason Hammel 16 88.2 70 17.4 29 7.2 5.08 4.52 5.29 4.90 1.0 0.6
Kenta Maeda 13 73.0 72 23.7 19 6.3 4.56 4.09 4.13 3.96 1.0 0.1
Ian Kennedy 15 81.0 69 20.8 35 10.5 4.44 5.36 5.23 4.90 0.1 1.1
Brandon McCarthy 13 72.0 57 19.7 20 6.9 3.25 3.21 4.17 4.40 1.9 1.2
Danny Duffy (L) 12 74.1 58 18.7 27 8.7 3.51 3.55 4.84 4.83 1.6 2.1
Clayton Kershaw (L) 18 123.1 146 30.9 22 4.7 2.19 3.12 2.84 2.98 3.3 3.6

Judging strictly by the pitching matchups, it would seem that Friday’s tilt provides the Royals with the best opportunity to beat the Dodgers. Maeda is the only Dodger starter that the Royals will see this weekend who hasn’t pitched particularly well. Coming off a rough start that saw him get pulled in the fourth with five earned runs allowed, the Royals will have to hope that they can replicate what the Padres did to him on Sunday. Maeda has only made it past the fifth inning in three of his starts this season, meaning the Royals could well get to the Dodgers’ bullpen quickly in this one.

Unlike Maeda, McCarthy and Kershaw have been pretty productive. Kershaw’s results have been relatively pedestrian by his godlike standards, but his fWAR still ranks him third in baseball amongst pitchers (he’s fifth in rWAR). McCarthy is coming off the disabled list with a knee injury after just over the minimum ten days. His last start was a rough one, but his seven starts prior saw him yield two or fewer runs. Inducing infield flies at a career-best rate, likely due to his increased reliance upon his cutter, which he’s throwing 30.0% of the time.

Los Angeles Dodgers 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
Justin Turner 3B 264 8 38 33 2 .380 .475 .566 .444 181 4.0 4.0
Corey Seager (L) SS 340 13 57 44 3 .299 .397 .509 .384 142 3.7 3.3
Chris Taylor Util 265 10 43 38 11 .295 .377 .500 .375 136 2.4 2.7
Yasmani Grandal (S) C 273 11 29 34 0 .271 .324 .474 .338 112 2.1 2.0
Cody Bellinger (L) 1B/LF 280 24 48 56 5 .258 .336 .613 .384 142 2.1 2.2
Austin Barnes C 122 4 20 18 4 .284 .402 .520 .393 148 1.2 1.3
Kike Hernández SS/CF 209 8 32 25 3 .217 .313 .461 .326 104 1.0 1.2
Yasiel Puig RF 314 15 39 42 9 .249 .325 .448 .325 103 1.0 1.1
Logan Forsythe 2B 204 3 29 14 1 .249 .368 .349 .323 102 1.0 1.2
Joc Pederson (L) CF 200 8 30 24 1 .235 .360 .446 .348 118 0.5 0.0
Chase Utley (L) 1B/2B 219 5 24 22 3 .219 .321 .385 .309 92 0.4 0.2
Trayce Thompson RF 32 1 2 1 0 .107 .219 .250 .192 20 -0.2 -0.2
Scott Van Slyke OF 48 2 6 3 1 .122 .250 .293 .236 45 -0.3 -0.2

The Dodgers position players trail just the Astros in fWAR, and do so only by 0.1 wins. Their 111 wRC+ is trails the Astros and Yankees, and the defensive component of fWAR ranks them second-best in baseball behind the Reds. Since Cody Bellinger started getting the lion’s share of the playing time at 1B, replacing the injured Adrian Gonzalez who was playing below replacement level, it’s hard to see a hole in the Dodgers’ lineup. All the money in the world and a brilliant front office can do that. It is not hard to see how they could be 29 games over .500.

Poll

How will the Royals do at Dodger Stadium?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Royals sweep
    (47 votes)
  • 30%
    Royals take two of three
    (177 votes)
  • 45%
    Dodgers take two of three
    (261 votes)
  • 15%
    Dodgers sweep
    (91 votes)
576 votes total Vote Now

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference through action on Thursday, July 7.

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