The Royals are in Baltimore, but they will be out of here way too soon. I say that because the O’s could use more games against sub-par teams like KC in order to boost their record and get to that .500 mark that they are dying for.
The Royals come into tonight’s game at 14-24, opposed to the O’s disgusting 12-26. Looking at the Royals schedule though, the O’s would have probably had a few more wins with a few series against the disappointing White Sox as opposed to all of these games versus the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays.
Royals hitters are actually 4th in all of baseball in batting average overall at .272 (Orioles are 20th at .250). But just like the Orioles, these Royals hitters have no timely hitting, being 22nd in the league in runs scored, which is cause for most of their losses. They match up with the O’s in the way that their starting pitching is very impressive at times, and their lineup is pretty stacked with guys who should be producing more but haven’t been in clutch situations.
I am more interested in this two game stint between the league’s worst duo because of the storylines behind each of the two games. Let’s look at the pitching matchups, and that will explain everything (with an extra stat thrown in at the end):
Tonight (Monday, 7:05 ET): Kyle Davies, RHP (2-2, 5.22) at Brad Bergesen, RHP (3-2, 5.76)
Tomorrow (Tuesday, 7:05 ET): Zack Greinke, RHP (1-4, 2.73) at Kevin Millwood, RHP (0-4, 3.69)
The extra stat is that Billy Butler is hitting .338 on the season for KC in 148 at-bats, with 8 doubles, 4 homeruns, and 22 RBIs.
I bring up the stat because of last season. The most interesting storyline behind tonight’s game will be the moment that Billy Butler steps into the batter’s box for his first at-bat against Bergesen since last season when he was in the box and smacked a line drive right at Bergy’s knee. That one swing ended his season, and eventually threw his mechanics completely off to give Brad a horrendous start to this year.
In the second game, everybody expects a pitcher’s duel between two quality starters that have gotten no opportunities this season to really show off their power as a solid pitcher due to lack of run support (and in many cases, defensive support) by the other 8 guys on the field. Both pitchers have pitched 50+ innings in their 8 starts each this season (Greinke 52.2, Millwood 53.2), so it will be interesting to see how each lineup fares with the opposing pitcher when placed in a situation where neither team is really expected to score many runs.
The O’s came into this 8 game homestand hoping to take 6 games or so against lower quality teams as compared to the AL East they have been faring poorly with. If the Orioles could pull out both wins over the Royals, they would take 5 wins and hit the road. That after a heartbreaker on Saturday, which threw the momentum off our side completely for the game the next afternoon, and eventually losing us the series to the Indians. Hopefully the O’s can come out and back Bergesen up for a 4th straight start, and then again Tuesday to hopefully pull Millwood his 1st W of the season.
Side story to follow: Who will fill the 5th rotation spot? Brittany Ghiroli reports that it is most likely Bergesen, and all signs point to that. MacPhail said to the media that nothing could be announced since a corresponding move would have to be made the day of game for that pitcher’s first start.
With only 1 ER in 25 IP this year so far, Jake Arrieta has looked stellar for AAA Norfolk. The main issue with bringing him up is that the team does not want to go off the path of his planned out development. The O’s did bring up Tillman quite early last year, so I see no reason why they wouldn’t surprise us with another move like that this year. Bergesen, on the other hand, seems to be the guy they want up there now. It is not anything against Arietta, it is just that the team wants both guys to eventually be in the rotation, and since Bergesen is the guy who is already set in a rotation spot in the future, they want him to be able to fill his role as soon as possible. Arrieta, on the other hand, could use another month or two or brilliant starts at the minor league level in order to fully prepare him for battling the AL East, something with Bergesen already has experience with and would probably be the better option for instead of putting in the rookie for his first start against the Red Sox clutch lineup.
Bergesen did throw 7 innings of 2 hit ball for Norfolk this past Sunday, which was a positive start for him considering the way he was blown off his rocker in his first 3 starts for the O’s this year.
Other options include giving the ball to Berken or Hendrickson for the one or two time start, but I think the O’s would rather leave them in the bullpen where they have been fantastic and let the Bergesen issues work themselves out. We will see by this weekend what Mr. MacPhail decides to do!