It sure is nice to have baseball back, isn’t it? What’s also nice is to have a competitive team. Be sure to enjoy it while you can, there’s no telling if the Royals will be keeping pace with everyone as they are now by this time, next week.
The Royals pitchers will hope for a better outcome than we saw on Thursday where they combined to allow 10 runs. Free-agent acquisition and old friend Mike Minor will lead the charge on this effort. The 33-year-old left-hander did not have a particularly good 2020, amassing a 5.56 ERA for the Rangers and Athletics. The Royals will be hoping that was a COVID-induced fluke as they signed him to a two-year deal during the off-season. Spring Training brought at least a little positivity. His ERA of 4.42 wasn’t spectacular but also not awful. He also managed to strike out more than a batter per inning while also limiting opponents to fewer than one runner per inning. That will play.
The Rangers will counter with Kohei Arihara. He has spent his entire career up to this point pitching for Nippon Professional Baseball as a Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighter but joins us here in the United States this season. Arihara was considered a top prospect and was drafted third overall by the Fighters prior to the 2015 season. His stats were never particularly dominating, at least not to US eyes, but he certainly had some success with a 3.74 ERA during his career in the NPB. He had a very strong spring, as well, striking out eleven and walking only one in fourteen innings of work. Arihara has a large arsenal of pitches; he throws a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a changeup, a slider, a cutter, and a splitter. Apparently, he’ll even drop a 70-MPH curveball occasionally just to keep things interesting. According to Fangraphs, he’s been using his four-seamer less and less often as he matures so a Royals lineup that in recent years has had difficulty with off-speed pitches may have its work cut out for it, today.
For those of you who may not have seen Thursday’s game, it appears Hunter Dozier’s day-to-day status with a hand contusion will keep him out of this game. Utility infielder Hanser Alberto will start in his place. That leaves the Royals with just Cam Gallagher, Ryan McBroom, and Jarrod Dyson available on the bench for today’s contest.