Royals Series Preview – Royals at Astros
Thursday: RHP Ian Kennedy (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Doug Fister (1-0, 5.40 ERA)
Kennedy is set to make his second start as a Royals starting pitcher Thursday, following his dazzling Royals debut, in which gave up zero runs over 6.2 innings, while striking out seven Twins.
He will face Fister, who continues the string of Astros starting pitchers to struggle in their season debut, three runs in just five innings of work
He did get the win, and struck out six Brewers to boot.
Kennedy also continues a trend of home run-susceptible/fastball-happy Royals to trot into the shark tank of a field at Minute Maid park. He gave up a career high 31 home runs in 2015, only to be outdone by his teammate and old friend James Shields, who gave up a league-leading 33 bombs.
If Kennedy has any advantage, it is that he has never faced many of the Astros core (most notably Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Stringer), as well as facing an Astros team who struck out more than any team in 2015 not named the Cubs.
As for Fister, the Royals have had mixed success against him, mostly from his time as a Tiger. Both Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon have faced 34 times, tied for the 5th most for any hitter against Fister. Gordon is hitting .242 against him for his career, while Alcides is hitting .303 with a double and homer.
Eric Hosmer has also had good success against the right-hander, with a .988 OPS over 26 PA.
For a rotation that figured to be pretty stacked with talent, the Astros got a bargain in Fister, only needing to commit $7 million to Fister on a one-year deal for a guy who is just one season removed from a 2.41 ERA season.
The opposite could be said about Kennedy, who received a massive five-year, $70 million contract, despite coming off a measly 0.8 fWAR season in 2015. In fact, Kennedy put up nearly half of his 2015 fWAR output in one start this season (0.3 in 2016).
Ian Kennedy v. the Astros (yes, again).
The Astros hit a lot of home runs, and Ian Kennedy gives up a lot of home runs. The Astros strike out a ton and Ian Kennedy strikes a lot of people out.
This will be good television.