In troubled times, it’s good to meet up with a team having just as many problems as you are. So this week, the resistible force (Tampa Bay Rays) host the movable object (KC Royals).
RHP Nathan Karns (1-2, 4.97 ERA) vs. LHP Blake Snell (0-2, 3.45 ERA); 6:10 p.m. (CT)
Nathan Karns comes in off probably his best start as a KC Royals pitcher after tossing six innings of one-hit ball against the White Sox, Wednesday. Snell, meanwhile, had his season’s longest start against Toronto, going 6.2 innings. Tampa has won two of Snell’s last three starts after losing his first three, FWIW.
Watch If: I got nothing. If you’re a fan of the Royals or Rays or happen to be in the extended family of Nathan Karns or Blake Snell, I guess. This is easily the most non-descript game of the series.
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TBA vs. RHP Matt Andriese (2-1, 3.09 ERA), 6:10 p.m. (CT)
TBA is currently scheduled to get the start Tuesday night. Big kid. Lefty. Projectable. Lot to like about him, think the KC Royals have a keeper on their hands.
Matt Andriese, meanwhile, has been a bit of a surprise for the Rays in the early going. After an ERA above 4.00 each of his previous two seasons, Andriese has churned out quality starts, stranding nearly 85 percent of runners and relying more on his curveball. He’s also got a FIP more than a run-and-a-half higher than his ERA (4.66), so maybe he’s got a regression to the mean coming.
Watch If: Like me, you’re intrigued by who TBA may turn out to be. And also because the Trop is one of the strangest places to see the inside of during a baseball game; it’s like a KBO stadium without the people, crossed with the Astrodome.
Alright, here we go. Looking to get on track, Hammel goes up against Chris Archer, one of baseball’s better pitchers and someone who could potentially be traded before this game even occurs.
Hammel tossed easily his finest game as a member of the KC Royals rotation Friday night, going six and scattering three hits while striking out six to earn his season’s first win. He’s considerably better than he’s shown through his first handful of starts as a Royal, and he’ll get a chance to prove it against a toothless Rays lineup.
Watch If: You want to see someone dominate Archer, look at Lorenzo Cain and his .500 lifetime average.
Save the best for last, I suppose.
Watch If: You want to see two of baseball’s most unsung-yet-talented starters battle before a crowd that rivals an SEC midweek contest.
Predictions Sure To Be Wrong
Game One: Snell gets the better of Karns as the Royals are forced to go deep into their pen.
Game Two: Andriese comes back to earth with an unpleasant bump as the KC Royals offense awakes from its coma.
Game Three: Hammel and Archer duel, but Archer’s curious problems at home continue—his splits at home are better than those on the road yet he’s 12-23 at the Trop the last three seasons. Royals win.
Game Four: Vargas and Odorizzi stage a classic in front of… whatever the opposite of a capacity crowd is, I suppose. But since it’s the KC Royals, we’ll call for this to be the game the bullpen blows sky-high. The teams split. Nobody is particularly happy.