After a 1-2 trip on the South Side of Chicago, the Royals head to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. We reached out to That Balls Outta Here editor Justin Klugh to help preview the weekend series.
Kings of Kauffman – What are Phillies fans expectations this season in the tough NL East?
That Balls Outta Here – What AREN’T people expecting in the NL East? Have you seen an NL East prediction that wasn’t Nats-Braves-Phils-Mets-Fish? The Nats win the division, and there’s some debate over whether the Braves get the first or second Wild Card. Some jokers occasionally put the Mets over the Phillies in third place. Jokers like Baseball Prospectus.
And you know what? They’re probably right. The NL East lined up so clearly in the offseason that there’s not even a lot of backdoor stats that you can use to loop the Phillies back around to second place. They’re not going to win the division. They might get a Wild Card spot, though that’s something I’ve been saying and I’m not sure if it’s because I actually believe it or because I refuse to not believe it. The Phillies are part of a middling .500 group of NL teams; for some, they’ll get a few lucky bounces and fight for the playoffs; others will get struck by lightning and fall to 60-70 wins. The Phillies are the only team like this in the NL East (Nats are dominant, Braves are between dominant and average, Mets are below average, Marlins are invisible), and if they were playing in the AL Central division or somewhere, they might have a better shot.
KOK – If any Royals fans are in Philly this weekend what can they expect from the crowd on the home opening weekend?
TBOH – This Interleague everyday stuff really confuses the vitriol-spew. I’m sure there will be plenty of people who watched the 1980 World Series and bring it up, but it’s not like any sort of longstanding feelings between the Phillies and Royals. Not that there needs to be for the hate to flow, but it’s still early in the season, people are excited, and Chipper Jones/Jose Reyes/any of the Nationals aren’t on your team so there’s no instinctive spark to pummel anybody right from the get-go.
I think the early season enthusiasm, home opener excitement, and flaccid relationship with the Royals will make this an enjoyable experience for anybody. But please don’t take my word for it.
KOK – These teams have met three times with the 1980 World Series, 2004 & ’07 Interleague Play, what are the thoughts of KC?
TBOH – Honestly, close to nil. I know you guys have been bad for a long time and have been supposed to be good for a little while; not overly good, but at least seeing some of those top picks get it together as Major Leaguers. If Jeff Francoeur still on your team? I used to have a really personal grudge against him. I forget why. Probably because he’s an a-hole and he sucks at baseball.
There’s nothing more fun than watching a team of anonymous youngsters get hot, even if it’s just for a part of the season, so you guys have that to look forward to – and your eventual breakout year. The Orioles did it last year, as did the Nationals; hell, even the Pirates almost got into the playoffs. The Pirates. Your guys’ year has to be forthcoming.
KOK – Citizens Bank Park seems to be a hitters park from the little we know will the weather make this the case over the weekend?
TBOH – CBP is a hitters’ park, for sure, which is why it is so nice that the Phillies have some hitters this year. Well, at least one. Charlie Manuel calls the hotter summer months “hittin’ season” because the ball carries better or whatever made-up West Virginia magic he’s cooking with. By that logic, the ball won’t carry much further than it’s supposed to. Of course, I was down at the park yesterday (no there was nothing going on) and it was a veritable wind storm, so. That might not help. Plus you’re going to be facing Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan, I think. They could both go sideways really at any time.
Pitching Match-ups and game times –
Friday: Wade Davis (0-0, 0.00) v. Kyle Kendrick (0-0, 0.00), 3:05 pm
Saturday: Luis Mendoza (0-0, 0.00) v. John Lannan (0-0, 0.00), 6:05 pm
Sunday: James Shields (0-1, 1.50) v. Cole Hamels (0-1, 9.00), 12:35 pm
Follow Justin on twitter @TBOHblog