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Royals series preview: The St. Petersburg Devil Rays

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Beware the Red Army!

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MLB: Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays
Communist wind-up
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Scare is coming to Kansas City, as Putin’s fearsome band of ballplayers look to wreak havoc in America’s Heartland. Both teams still puzzlingly have a shot of making the playoffs despite neither team being particularly good. Russian hackers surely have something to do with all of this. Putin’s squad has the luxury of facing a Royals team that hasn’t scored in their past three games.

Alex McDonald from numberFire sent their odds for each game of the series over. They are as follows:

In the first game of the series, we give the Royals a 46% chance to win today. In the second game, a 46.27% win probability. And in the third game, a 49.94% win probability.

The game times and pitching matchups are as follows:

  • Monday, August 28, 7:15 PM CDT - Comrade Pruitt versus Ian Kennedy
  • Tuesday, August 29, 7:15 PM CDT - Comrade Cobb versus Jake Junis
  • Wednesday, August 30, 7:15 PM CDT - Comrade Odorizzi versus Jason Vargas (L)

Rays 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
Austin Pruitt 24 65.2 49 16.6 15 5.1 5.76 4.48 4.56 4.38 0.3 -1.0
Ian Kennedy 24 127.1 111 20.7 52 9.7 5.09 5.36 5.12 4.79 0.2 0.9
Alex Cobb 24 151.1 101 16.2 38 6.1 3.69 4.21 4.43 4.67 1.9 1.9
Jake Junis 13 57.2 49 19.2 18 7.1 4.68 4.98 5.13 4.60 0.3 0.4
Jake Odorizzi 22 112.0 94 19.3 49 10.1 4.82 5.95 5.41 5.13 -0.5 -0.7
Jason Vargas (L) 25 145.1 111 18.2 44 7.2 3.72 4.29 4.43 4.74 1.9 3.8

The Rays are favored on the road in all three matchups. One quick look at the pitching matchups (and taking the Royals putrid offense of late into account) lets those odds mostly check out.

Austin Pruitt’s 5.79 ERA might be unsightly, but his advanced metrics suggest that he’s pitched better than Ian Kennedy this year. Jake Junis does not matchup favorably with Alex Cobb, who has pitched better in nearly every regard. Vargas is the only one who could reasonably lay claim to an advantage in a vacuum over his foe, former Royals’ farmhand Jake Odorizzi, but he’s hardly looked good for the past two months or so, and he has to face the better offense.

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 522 28 69 75 13 .253 .359 .493 .362 130 3.8 4.1
Corey Dickerson (L) LF 540 25 75 58 4 .291 .338 .513 .355 125 3.3 2.8
Logan Morrison (L) 1B 500 31 62 70 2 .244 .350 .512 .359 128 3.2 3.0
Evan Longoria 3B 559 17 62 70 4 .265 .320 .438 .320 101 2.8 3.6
Kevin Kiermaier (L) CF 304 10 36 28 11 .267 .333 .443 .331 109 1.7 3.3
Jesus Sucre C 165 4 15 24 2 .255 .294 .376 .287 79 0.7 0.3
Lucas Duda (L) DH 105 7 12 12 0 .202 .343 .488 .348 120 0.5 0.7
Peter Bourjos OF 156 5 22 11 5 .226 .271 .397 .285 77 0.2 -0.1
Adeiny Hechavarría SS 179 3 15 13 2 .234 .258 .333 .255 56 0.1 0.2
Danny Espinosa (S) IF 6 0 0 0 0 .200 .333 .200 .262 61 0.0 0.0
Cesar Puello OF 2 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 -0.1 -0.1
Wilson Ramos C 148 5 12 17 0 .243 .283 .382 .280 73 -0.1 -0.4
Brad Miller (L) 2B 324 6 30 30 4 .192 .333 .321 .294 83 -0.4 0.3

The Rays have used a lot of position players this year. Lucas Duda, Adeiny Hechevarría, and Danny Espinosa started the season in other organizations. As a unit, their position players have been the eighth-most valuable squad in the game. Their 99 wRC+ built off a .246/.320/.425 slash and .318 wOBA is the 11th-best mark in the game. While their defense is middle-of-the-road, they are the best team in baseball on the base paths per BaseRuns. Damn those reds.

Poll

How will the Royals fare against Putin’s Red Army?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Royals sweep
    (28 votes)
  • 32%
    Royals take two of three
    (40 votes)
  • 20%
    Devil Rays take two of three
    (26 votes)
  • 24%
    Devil Rays sweep, sowing unrest in America’s Heartland
    (31 votes)
125 votes total Vote Now

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference through action on Sunday, August 27.

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