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St. Petersburg Devil Rays series preview: Behind enemy lines

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Putin’s army prepares to exert its dominance over the lowly Royals

Merkel And Putin Meet At Schloss Meseberg Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images

The Kansas City Royals travel behind the Iron Curtain to face the St. Petersburg Devil Rays, commencing a four-game series in which the Royals will take the unconventional tack of playing really bad baseball to undermine the importance of the series. As Ned Yost has surely stated behind closed doors, “If you can’t beat them, render the victory meaningless.”

Game times and pitching matchups are as follows:

  • Monday, August 20 — 6:10 PM CDT — Jorge López versus Hunter Wood
  • Tuesday, August 21 — 6:10 PM CDT — Glenn Sparkman versus Blake Snell (L)
  • Wednesday, August 22 — 6:10 PM CDT — Jake Junis versus TBD
  • Thursday, August 23 — 6:10 PM CDT — TBD versus Tyler Glasnow

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference:

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
Game 1
Jorge López 11 24.1 18 16.5 15 13.8 4.44 4.72 5.15 5.23 -0.1 0.1
Hunter Wood 16 26.1 31 26.1 14 11.8 4.10 3.88 3.66 3.91 0.2 0.2
Game 2
Glenn Sparkman 9 20.0 17 18.7 8 8.8 4.95 4.11 4.54 4.33 0.0 0.0
Blake Snell (L) 23 133.0 149 28.5 50 9.6 2.10 3.34 3.54 3.66 2.8 5.1
Game 3
Jake Junis 23 132.1 127 22.0 40 6.9 4.76 5.00 4.38 4.09 0.4 0.6
TBD - - - - - - - - - - - -
Game 4
TBD - - - - - - - - - - - -
Tyler Glasnow 38 74.2 96 30.9 40 12.9 4.10 3.63 3.34 3.49 0.5 0.5

We are at the point in the Royals’ season when there are multiple pitchers in the rotation who weren’t on the 25-man roster three weeks ago. Putin would be licking his chops if the Royals’ struggles hadn’t stripped this matchup of every last shred of import. Blake Snell has done President Putin proud this season, ranking third in the majors in ERA amongst qualified pitchers behind Jacob deGrom and Chris Sale. His peripherals suggest that luck has favored him, as the southpaw has a .233 BABIP and 87.4 LOB%, and his 19.0 K-BB% is sterling but good for just the 17th-best mark in baseball. Hunter Wood will play the part of the opener in the first game of the series, a role conceived by Putin in an effort to undermine the meaning of the pitcher win in a strike to the core of the America’s values. Tyler Glasnow has excelled since coming over to St. Petersburg in a deadline deal for Chris Archer. Some of this probably arose from his comfort in being able to go by his real last name, Glasnost. Tyler loves transparency, and that love has unleashed better control, as his walk rate has been slashed since donning the uniform of The Party.

St. Petersburg Devil Rays position players

Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Mallex Smith (L) OF 407 2 48 29 26 .298 .370 .421 .346 122 2.7 2.9
Joey Wendle (L) 2B/LF 393 7 41 42 8 .291 .339 .423 .329 110 2.1 2.6
Matt Duffy 3B 439 4 42 32 8 .294 .351 .371 .319 103 1.5 1.6
Tommy Pham LF 420 14 70 42 10 .241 .331 .388 .317 99 1.5 0.7
C.J. Cron DH/1B 454 24 55 59 1 .250 .317 .480 .340 118 1.4 1.4
Jake Bauers (L) 1B 267 9 35 34 4 .214 .331 .424 .329 110 1.0 0.8
Willy Adames SS 184 6 22 17 5 .240 .299 .377 .295 87 0.3 0.8
Kevin Kiermaier (L) CF 256 4 30 18 8 .179 .246 .295 .236 47 0.2 0.5
Ji-Man Choi (L) 1B/DH 83 3 5 10 1 .247 .325 .438 .330 111 0.1 0.2
Michael Perez (L) C 52 1 5 4 0 .292 .327 .417 .320 104 0.1 0.1
Carlos Gomez RF 360 8 35 27 9 .215 .309 .348 .295 87 -0.2 0.8
Brandon Lowe (L) 2B/LF 34 0 0 2 0 .103 .235 .138 .191 15 -0.3 -0.3
Jesus Sucre C 148 0 6 15 1 .206 .247 .235 .210 29 -0.6 -0.1

The Devil Rays position players have accumulated 13.9 fWAR, ranking 17th in the game. They’ve slashed .251/.324/.391 with a .313 wOBA and 99 wRC+. That they’ve been below league average is a problem for Putin, which means it’s a problem for the Devil Rays. With the opportunity to face the dismal Royals’ pitching staff, they could very easily end up back on the right side of 100 for that wRC+.

Poll

How will the Royals fare in Russia?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Royals sweep
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    Royals take three of four
    (2 votes)
  • 16%
    Split
    (15 votes)
  • 53%
    Devil Rays take three of four
    (48 votes)
  • 21%
    Devil Rays sweep
    (19 votes)
89 votes total Vote Now