Sep 23, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
How ready are you for the World Series to start? Yeah, me too.
There have been hundreds of articles about the playoffs, with plenty of predictions about this World Series. Be glad you are still reading, and taking in the predictions here at the Kings of Kauffman. Due to our twisted, myopic relationship with them, nobody knows the Royals better than us.
There are several keys, and some potential surprises that guided me to my World Series prediction. Instead of breaking down the entire series, I am going to give it to you in 3, easy to digest posts. Games 1 and 2, games 3-5, and games 6 and 7. Yes, I think there will be games 6-7. Yes, I think the Royals will win it in 7. First things first. How do they fare in Games 1-2?
The A number one key to the Royals in Game 1-2, and the whole World Series, is their starting pitching. I still expect the back end of the bullpen, HDH, to be brilliant. That said, it would be nice to see the starters not abuse the privilege that is HDH. Take a quick look at these numbers from the ALCS.
The Royals scored a meager 4 runs combined in games 3 and 4 of the ALCS. They were lucky to get such solid starts from their weakest starters in those games. Funny writing that, because with the exception of Yordano Ventura’s excellent outing in Anaheim, the best starting pitching this post season has come from Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie. Even with that said, neither Vargas nor Guthrie pitched 6 innings in the ALCS. In fact, no Royals starter threw 6 total innings or more in the ALCS. While both Vargas and Guthrie had solid seasons, they are just not pitchers a team can expect to ride to a World Series Championship.
The most disappointing starter has been none other than game one’s starter, James Shields. Nobody should worry about the spirit of James Shields, but what if the flesh, or more specifically, the arm is weak? Then the Royals can almost certainly pencil in a loss, or two, to Madison Bumgarner.
The last time we saw Yordano Ventura, he was walking himself out of the middle of an inning with a tight shoulder. If the Royals get shaky number one pitching from Shields, they absolutely have to have the, “Let’s Throw Fire Today”, version of Yordano Ventura to win this series.
This is a big concern, but I think both Shields and Ventura are due for rebounds. This is the biggest moment of Shield’s career. He was brought to Kansas City for exactly this story book ending. He will be among the biggest free agents available next year. Shields has also received very valuable rest, and should be sharper than the Shields of the ALDS and ALCS. My hope is that he actually tones things down. I would rather see Shields throw 93 with excellent location, than throw 96 all over the zone. So-Cal dude needs to chill. Can he?
Valuable rest and the cozy confines of the K should also pay dividends for Yordano Ventura. Smart money says Little Pedro hands the Royals and their bull-pen a lead or a tie by Game 2’s 6th inning, and then things just take care of themselves.
The threat of the Royals running played a factor in the ALCS. The O’s pitchers were distracted, implementing slide steps, and were not making the “best pitch possible”. That said, The Orioles limited the Royals running game, as they swiped only one bag in the 4 ALCS games. Yes, Buck Showalter constructed some creative ways to hold runners, but the main reason was Baltimore’s stable of left-handed throwers. I think the Royals runners are faster than they are smart. Yes, the Royals will face the Giants lefty ace, Madison Bumgarner in game 1, but he looks to be the only southpaw they will see over multiple innings. Game 2’s starter is Jake Peavy and the Giant’s best middle reliever and long man is also a righty, Yusmeiro Petit. The Giants other 2 starters, Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong, are both right-handed as well. More on them later.
The Royals had a streaky line up all year. That glorious hot streak we enjoyed in the Wild Card, ALDS and start of the ALCS? It is over. The Royals can certainly hit better then they did in games 3 and 4 of the ALCS, but will still need more than 1 stolen base to win in either Game 1 or Game 2 of this World Series. I think they will.
The Royals and Giants will open the Fall Classic with two very close games, at least one going extra innings. They will resume the series this Friday in San Francisco knotted up 1-1.