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Oakland A’s Series Preview: Let’s do it again

The Royals have won a few games recently. The A’s...have not.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Cleveland Guardians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals just saw the A’s during their long trip to the West Coast and now they’re being hospitable by inviting them over for a stay at their place. The two teams will match up this weekend with nothing more than a draft lottery spot on the line, if we’re being honest. Since these two teams just met and the series is about as interesting as watching Two Broke Girls, I won’t spend too much time on what they can do and what they can’t. They’re bad at hitting. They’re somewhere between bad and below average at pitching. And they are either very bad (by DRS) or mediocre (by OAA) defensively.

Royals vs. A’s Matchup Stats

Category Royals A's
Category Royals A's
Winning % .368 .324
H2H Wins 2 1
Team wRC+ 90 75
Team xFIP 4.65 4.31
Run Differential -91 -109
Highest fWAR Bobby Witt Jr., 1.6 Frankie Montas, 2.0

A’s Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Tony Kemp 2B 249 .221 .306 .267 9.2% 12.4% 75 0.1
Jonah Bride 3B 32 .258 .281 .290 3.1% 6.3% 68 -0.1
Seth Brown LF 228 .212 .276 .413 7.9% 27.6% 98 0.6
Ramon Laureano RF 162 .243 .327 .361 8.0% 19.1% 106 0.8
Jed Lowrie DH 162 .192 .259 .281 8.7% 22.8% 60 -0.7
Christian Bethancourt 1B 153 .243 .283 .396 4.6% 22.9% 97 0.7
Sean Murphy C 258 .213 .291 .396 8.1% 25.2% 99 1.7
Elvis Andrus SS 237 .216 .278 .330 7.6% 14.3% 79 0.2
Cristian Pache CF 200 .160 .207 .225 5.5% 26.5% 26 -0.9

A’s Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Stephen Vogt C/1B 44 .158 .273 .395 11.4% 27.3% 97 0.1
Sheldon Neuse INF 191 .233 .293 .307 6.8% 26.7% 79 0.0
Nick Allen INF 32 .207 .281 .379 6.3% 25.0% 94 0.0
Chad Pinder INF/OF 185 .239 .266 .375 3.8% 33.0% 85 -0.1

A’s Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
A.J. Puk 25 28.1 1 0 22.6% 6.1% 1.91 3.40 0.2
Zach Jackson 30 27.2 1 2 32.8% 19.3% 3.90 4.14 0.4
Domingo Acevedo 31 30.2 0 1 23.4% 7.3% 3.82 4.14 -0.3

Royals vs. A’s Projected Pitching Matchups

June 24 - LHP Cole Irvin vs. RHP Zack Greinke, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Cole Irvin 11 63.0 2 4 16.5% 5.7% 3.14 4.33 0.6
Zack Greinke 10 51.2 0 4 11.2% 4.5% 5.05 4.83 0.4

The Royals faced Cole Irvin in Oakland and generally struggled to get anything going against him getting just three hits and two walks in 6.1 innings. The best thing the A’s did for the Royals was pull him before they went to Ryan O’Hearn, who chopped a double over first base to score the Royals first run. Irvin’s home park helps him quite a bit as he has a 1.57 ERA in six starts at home compared to a 5.02 ERA in five starts on the road, so maybe this’ll be a different story for the Royals. The Royals were 1 for 12 against his four-seam fastball and his sinker, but they were also 1 for 8 against his changeup, so everything was working for him, though they did make some decent contact against the harder stuff, so maybe that’s a spot where they can do some damage in this one.

Career vs. KC: 3 GS, 19.1 IP, 1-1, 1.40 ERA

Zack Greinke looks ready to make his return to the big leagues after going seven innings during his last start in Omaha. In total, he made two rehab starts and gave up three runs in 12 innings and was super efficient. He probably should be that efficient given his ability to pitch, but it was nice to see anyway after he struggled some in his final four starts before going on the IL. In those four starts, he had a 9.50 ERA and even walked four batters in a game during the stretch. But he’s back healthy now and given the A’s inability to square much up, he could have himself a nice opportunity to get back into the swing of things at the big league level. If he can stay out of the middle of the plate, you’d think he’d be generally fine against this offense, and as long as he has his good command, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Career vs. OAK: 24 G, 19 GS, 127.1 IP, 11-3, 2.76 ERA

June 25 - LHP Jared Koenig vs. RHP Brad Keller, 3:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jared Koenig 3 13.2 1 2 9.0% 11.9% 6.59 6.69 -0.2
Brad Keller 13 75.1 2 8 15.0% 7.7% 4.30 4.27 0.5

The Royals offense just couldn’t solve Jared Koenig in Oakland on Sunday, which was weird because I don’t think there’s a world where anyone would argue he looked good. He walked four in 5.2 innings and hit another batter and didn’t get a single strikeout. But he only gave up two hits. It was generally weak contact, but while the Royals were 1 for 4 against his sinker and 0 for 5 against his curve, they had an expected average of .409 and 363 respectively, so there was clearly some luck playing into it for Koenig. But he worked around it and kept the Royals off the board. For me, this is an interesting test for the Royals hitting coaches, who are talked about as incredibly prepared and after having a chance to see how he attacked the Royals, I wonder if they come at him with a slightly different plan at the plate for this one.

Career vs. KC: 1 G, 5.2 IP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA

Brad Keller had been struggling before facing the A’s last weekend and he ended up turning in one of his best starts of the year. He gave up just one hit and three walks in seven innings while he struck out six against them. It was the fifth time this season he’s gone seven innings and the ninth time he’s gone at least six. So the odds are that he’s going to be able to give the Royals some innings. If I have any concern about him heading into this start, it’s that while he had good results from his slider, it still didn’t look quite like the really good pitch we saw from him earlier in the season. He probably doesn’t need it against the A’s, but it would be nice if he could get it in order for the rest of the season when he faces a bit tougher competition. I did like how much he used his four-seamer and I hope he continues that in this game.

Career vs. OAK: 3 GS, 13.2 IP, 1-1, 4.61 ERA

June 26 - RHP James Kaprielian vs. RHP Brady Singer, 1:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
James Kaprielian 10 46.2 0 5 16.4% 9.7% 5.98 5.28 -0.6
Brady Singer 10 45.2 3 2 23.3% 4.8% 4.34 3.30 0.4

Finally, someone the Royals didn’t see just a week ago. You may or may not remember this, but James Kaprielian was once a big-time prospect with the Yankees, but he ended up having Tommy John Surgery in April of 2017 and missing two full seasons. During the time he was injured, he was traded to the A’s in the deal that brought Sonny Gray to New York. He pitched pretty well across three levels in 2019 and then only made two appearances for the big club in 2020 with no minor league season. But last year, he was quite good in the big leagues. This season, though, has been a struggle as his numbers would indicate. While his fastball appears to have the same general shape of last season, he’s just not getting it past hitters like last year. His whiff rate is way down on it and while the numbers aren’t up significantly, they’re still up. That’s helping to limit his strikeouts and when you factor in a higher walk rate as well, it’s easy to see why there are struggles. But his slider has remained good. Even with that, he’s struggled quite a bit with both his curve and his changeup. The changeup struggles are significant because that’s what has contributed to him getting lit up by lefties to the tune of a .962 OPS compared to .744 vs. righties.

Career vs. KC: 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA

After two starts where it looked like the frontline pitcher potential might be back, Brady Singer has settled into a back-of-the-rotation starter once again. There’s value in that, but the Royals are hoping for more. He’s gone exactly five innings in three of his last five starts, 5.1 in another and 5.2 in another. He’s given up exactly three runs in three of those with two in one and seven in another. Some of the trouble has come from relievers letting inherited runners score, but some of it is his own doing. He faced this very Oakland team on Sunday and looked pretty okay, but didn’t use his changeup much, even against lefties, and ended up hitting a bit of a wall and getting let down by Jose Cuas. This is a team that should struggle against his slider. I’m okay with him backing off his changeup a bit because the A’s are inept enough that Singer should be able to handle them with just his two pitches. But until he has another outing like the first couple back from Omaha, I’m going to have to assume this is who he is.

Career vs. OAK: 2 GS, 11.1 IP, 0-1, 4.76 ERA

Royals vs. A’s Prediction

I think the Royals are playing some decent baseball and the A’s are just bad. Because of that, I think the Royals win two of three and actually feel pretty okay about that prediction for the first time in quite some time.

SB Nation has partnered with DraftKings to sponsor select series previews this season. Here are the betting odds for this series. The Royals are a -1.5 run favorite tonight with a +145 moneyline, and an over/under of 9 runs scored in the game.


The A’s are back for more. How many wins for the Royals this series?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    (21 votes)
  • 56%
    (56 votes)
  • 14%
    (14 votes)
  • 9%
    (9 votes)
100 votes total Vote Now