What a difference a series can make for the KC Royals. In an exciting three game series with the Angels, the KC Royals got a big sweep to find themselves back at .500, a thing many fans thought they might not ever see.
The KC Royals will be facing the San Francisco Giants. They are coming into the K after losing 3 of 4 to the Colorado Rockies at home. They will be looking to get back on track in a place they have some great memories at.
Game 1: RHP Jason Hammel (0-1, 6.52 ERA, 1.97 WHIP) vs. RHP Matt Cain (1-0, 4.82 ERA, 1.82 WHIP)
After the off day Monday, both these teams will take the field, one looking to continue its hot streaks, one looking to get back on track.
Making his third start off the year, Jason Hammel will look to turn in his first quality start as a KC Royal. In his first two starts, he has gone 5 innings, 3 runs and 4.2 innings, 4 runs.
Hammel has had much more trouble commanding his fastball this year, based of this chart from Baseball Savant.
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This isn’t Hammel’s only issue though. One thing that has been really concerning me is his slider usage. Hammer spent a short amount time on the DL last year, which possibly kept him off the post-season roster for the Chicago Cubs.
Well, last year he threw his slider 35.2% of the time. In small time this year, he has thrown it 19.1% of the time.
So for a guy that is struggling commanding his fastball and not throwing his go to pitch as often, it’s no wonder that Hammel is struggling this year.
The good news is though, Hammel has pitched fairly well against the Giants lineup, as current Giants hitters have a triple slashline of .243/.291/.430. Hammel’s last start against the Giants was August 6, 2015, in which he gave up 2 runs in 4 innings.
On the hill for the Giants will be Matt Cain. After winning the final spot in the rotation, Cain has pitched some quality innings for the Giants rotation so far.
Concerns are still there though, as Cain has had a velocity dip in all of his pitches early on.
Look for Cain to use his fastball, slider combo against the Royals.
Batter to Watch – Mike Moustakas: Matt Cain is a pitcher Mike Moustakas should love. With Cain’s typical low-90s fastball, Moustakas should be ready to swing. On fastballs 88-92 MPH, Moustakas had the 11th highest exit velocity out of 388 batters last year.
Game 2: LHP Jason Vargas (2-0, 0.66 ERA, 0.88 WHIP) vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner (0-2, 3.43 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
The matchup everybody is waiting for. With the Giants throwing star pitcher Madison Bumgarner on the hill, the Royals will send opposing lefty Jason Vargas out of their dugout.
Jason Vargas isn’t the ace like Bumgarner is, though he’s done nothing to say that in his first two starts. Based off of Game Score, according to Fangraphs, Jason Vargas had his second best start with the KC Royals, pitching 7.2 scoreless innings.
His success has come off his changeup so far. Vargas currently has the #1 changeup value in the MLB. This could present a good matchup for Vargas too. Since the beginning of 2016, the Giants are the fifth worst changeup hitting team in baseball.
But then nothing really compares to what the Giants are throwing out there. Madison. Freaking. Bumgarner. Enemy #1 for all KC Royals fans.
His performance in the 2014 World Series was nothing short of great. He set records by devastating Royals hitters.
But it isn’t 2014 anymore. Believe it or not actually, Bumgarner is 0-1 in the regular season against the Royals in his career. But there Royals squeezed one out in that matchup, as Bumgarner still pitched great, tossing a complete game.
Batter to Watch – Eduardo Nunez: Among players with at least 50 balls in play last year, Nunez had the 11th best batting average of changeups. He was 19 for 53. Not to mention, he is also 5 for 15 off of Jason Vargas in his career, with a double and a triple.
Royals and Giants Split
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I think the KC Royals bats will continue to stay hot. It’s just they’re running into Madison Bumgarner. This would be an okay outcome heading into a road series with the Texas Rangers.