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Oakland A’s Series Preview: Can the Royals win 28-10?

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Patrick Mahomes isn’t walking through that door.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros
Sep 11, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien (10, left) celebrates with Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson (28, right) after hitting a home run against the Houston Astros during the fourth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams
Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals will play on the same field where Patrick Mahomes had a historic second quarter just yesterday to take on the Oakland Athletics. Did the MVP’s winning ways leave any Kansas City good fortune for the Royals to potentially take the series from the fourth best team in the American League? Spoiler alert: Probably not. We all just saw the A’s put their annual Kansas City beatdown on the Royals, so we have a pretty good idea of what they are, but just to recap, they can hit with most of their offense displaying power and patience. Their pitching might be a bit of smoke and mirrors, which will make it harder for them to get through the postseason if they make it beyond the Wild Card game for once, but they do have a lot of depth, so if they can find the right combination, they could make a fun run. Oh and now that Sean Manaea is back (and pitching great), they have six former Royals on their staff, which is strangely working.

Meet the A’s

Royals vs. A’s Tale of the Tape

Category Royals Athletics
Category Royals Athletics
Winning % .367 .600
Team wRC+ 83 107
Team xFIP 4.96 4.79
Run Differential -167 152
H2H Wins 1 3
H2H Runs 19 34
Highest fWAR Hunter Dozier, 3.4 Marcus Semien, 6.6

A’s Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Marcus Semien SS 699 .279 .363 .510 11.4% 14.0% 132 6.6
Matt Chapman 3B 624 .250 .345 .514 11.2% 22.1% 127 5.7
Matt Olson 1B 501 .269 .353 .554 9.2% 25.5% 137 3.7
Mark Canha CF 459 .267 .392 .508 13.9% 22.7% 143 3.7
Seth Brown LF 57 .385 .439 .596 7.0% 22.8% 177 0.9
Khris Davis DH 500 .220 .288 .388 8.2% 26.8% 79 -0.9
Ramon Laureano RF 447 .283 .336 .516 5.4% 26.4% 124 3.2
Jurickson Profar 2B 495 .216 .297 .407 8.9% 14.7% 87 1.0
Josh Phegley C 330 .245 .290 .427 4.5% 17.3% 88 0.4

A’s Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Sean Murphy C 29 .407 .448 1.000 6.9% 27.6% 272 0.8
Beau Taylor C 28 .174 .321 .436 14.3% 21.4% 105 0.1
Franklin Barreto INF 52 .118 .135 .255 1.9% 38.5% -5 -0.5
Sheldon Neuse INF 37 .265 .324 .324 8.1% 32.4% 79 0.1
Chad Pinder INF/OF 343 .237 .284 .410 5.0% 24.2% 83 0.7
Robbie Grossman OF 464 .245 .338 .354 12.3% 17.7% 91 0.9

A’s Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Liam Hendriks 70 80.1 4 2 37.5% 6.7% 1.57 3.27 3.5
Yusmeiro Petit 74 76.1 5 3 22.5% 3.2% 2.83 4.59 1.2
Joakim Soria 66 64.0 1 4 28.0% 7.3% 4.64 3.88 0.8

Probable Pitching Matchups

Monday September 16th - 9:07pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Glenn Sparkman 28 122.2 4 11 13.3% 6.5% 5.94 5.79 -0.6
Tanner Roark 28 152.2 10 8 21.8% 7.1% 4.01 4.58 2.3

Tanner Roark has been a nice addition for the A’s since the trade deadline giving his typical six innings with good control just about every time out for them. He did hit a bit of a bump in the road in his last start, giving up five in 5.2 innings to the Astros but also got the win because the A’s put up 21 runs in that game. He wasn’t great against the Royals in Kansas City a couple weeks ago either with two home runs allowed and four runs over six innings, so it hasn’t been perfect lately, but he’s still been overall very good. His big issue is his platoon splits. He’s given up a .243/.286/.396 line to righties while lefties have done some serious damage against him, hitting .295/.382/.486. For the Royals, that’s no ideal, though Adalberto Mondesi being back gives them an additional lefty bat that they didn’t have the last time these two teams faced off and Ryan O’Hearn hit a home run off him in Kansas City, so they at least have that going for them, which is nice.

Glenn Sparkman gave up three runs in five innings against the White Sox his last time out in what ended up being a winning effort for him. That was probably his third best start since throwing the shutout against the White Sox. Even with that mediocre effort propping up his numbers, Sparkman has an 8.03 ERA in that time period, which is now up to 10 starts. He’s given up 14 home runs in 49.1 innings and 66 total hits. Opponents are slugging .592 against him in those 10 starts. I could keep going, but I’ll just tell you that he gave up seven runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings against Oakland in August in the series finale that saw the Royals put up eight runs and still lose. The last time Sparkman has had double digit swings and misses was August 2 and Minnesota and he’s done it just twice all year, so an A’s team that makes contact and has power is not likely to be a good match for him.

Tuesday September 17th - 9:07pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jorge Lopez 36 109.1 4 7 21.0% 8.3% 6.09 4.62 0.1
Brett Anderson 29 166.0 12 9 12.1% 6.8% 4.07 4.84 1.7

If you asked me how old I thought Brett Anderson was, I’d probably have told you he’s 34 or 35. But he’s only 31. The lefty was a rookie in 2009 and has pitched every year in the majors since then, but injuries have been his bugaboo, of course. This start will be his 30th, which is notable because it’ll be just the third time in 11 years that he’ll get to that number. In fact, he’s been below 10 starts in as many years as he’ll be at 30 after this season, which isn’t great. Amazingly, he’s been a little above average this season with a strikeout rate below five per nine, so that’s pretty impressive, though likely not terribly sustainable. He relies heavily on a sinker, which explains the low strikeout rate with its whiff rate sitting at just about 13 percent. Opponents have hit it better than he’d hope with a .452 SLG against it. His four-seamer has actually been his best pitch for results and his changeup for swings and misses, but he’s gotten 41 of his 85 strikeouts on his slider, so watch out for that one. Like Roark, he’s struggled against opposite-handed hitters, allowing a .780 OPS to righties and a .603 OPS to lefties. That’s one that looks good for the Royals.

Jorge Lopez is getting another shot at the rotation with Brad Keller shut down, and he’s honestly making the most of it. He’s been pretty okay with a 3.38 ERA over 16 innings. The issues are that he’s gotten just a nine percent swinging strike rate, which isn’t good, but he’s also walked just four in that time. It’s not just control for him, but command also, but that’s a good sign anyway. He hasn’t allowed a home run in either of his last two starts, though one was against the Marlins, so, well, you know. Still, this is a good opportunity for him to face a team that got him pretty good in August after he relieved Keller in the disaster game. If he can pass this test, it’ll be a nice building block of confidence for him.

Wednesday September 18th - 2:37pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Danny Duffy 21 118.2 6 6 20.4% 8.5% 4.55 5.17 1.0
Homer Bailey 29 151.1 13 8 20.8% 8.0% 4.76 4.52 2.2

Like Roark, Homer Bailey has been a nice addition for the A’s, giving them innings when they’ve needed it. He hasn’t been quite as good, but again, he’s been fine and provided valuable innings. He beat the Royals for the first time in his career in the drubbing back in Kansas City, so he can cross that off his list, and actually in his last six starts, he’s been quite good. Including that start in KC, he’s 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA over 36 innings with 34 strikeouts and six walks. It’s really been quite impressive for him as he makes a push to be in the postseason rotation if they get to a series. He’s been surprisingly consistent through his times against the batting order, allowing a .715 OPS the first time through, .743 the second time and .709 the third. He’s only faced four hitters a fourth time, though, so there’s a pretty good bet he’s going to be out of the game after two and a half or three times through, which means that even if he’s pitching well, he likely won’t be a problem for the whole game.

When Danny Duffy came off the IL at the start of September, he was coming off a start where he gave up four home runs in 4.2 innings. He was giving up 1.7 homers per nine, which even in today’s game isn’t good. So that’s why it’s so encouraging that he’s allowed just one in his three starts since coming back. He’s been very good in general, with a 2.45 ERA in 18.1 innings and just 13 hits allowed. The walks are a little high, but the 11 percent swinging strike rate is good enough. Plus, he just went six innings against the Astros and gave up just one run on four hits. You’ll take that against that offense every single time out. He’s had his way with the A’s throughout his career, going 4-0 with a 2.89 ERA in eight games over 43.2 innings with just 25 hits allowed. All four wins have come in Oakland with a 2.59 ERA in six games, so he clearly likes to pitch there. Hopefully he can have another solid outing in this one.

Prediction

The Royals played two vaguely competitive games against the Astros that exploded late. The A’s are a really good team but not quite on the Astros level. So because of that, I’m going to go out on a ledge and say that the Royals will take one game this week in Oakland. If they want to avoid 100 losses, they need to finish 8-4, which is improbable but obviously not impossible. It becomes a lot more possible if they can sweep the A’s, which I can’t say I see happening.

Poll

How does Royals/A’s end this week?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Royals Sweep
    (6 votes)
  • 39%
    A’s Sweep
    (48 votes)
  • 9%
    Royals Win Two of Three
    (12 votes)
  • 45%
    A’s Win Two of Three
    (55 votes)
121 votes total Vote Now