KC Royals visit Angels to wrap up West Coast road trip

Apr 14, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Los Angeles Angels second basemen Danny Espinosa (3) at bat during a game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 14, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Los Angeles Angels second basemen Danny Espinosa (3) at bat during a game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

The KC Royals could get back to .500 if everything breaks right in Anaheim. And the Angels, who got the opportunity to sub out the best player of his generation for Eric Young Jr., are ripe for pillaging.

The KC Royals are 4-1 on the current West Coast road trip. That’s a pretty good cause for celebration anyway. That a sweep of the Angels could get the Royals back to .500 on the season is kind of amazing.

To go from “What’ll we get for all these guys when we sell them at the trade deadline?” (which was a series I ran basically two weeks after starting this gig) to “Eh, the AL Central is a garbage fire, we’ve got just as good of a chance as anybody; 85 wins could take this thing,” speaks to both the resilience of the KC Royals and the regression to the mean of the rest of the division.

(The AL Central: Where Mediocrity Happens! Toss that on a t-shirt and get printing in Cleveland, Chicago, Minnesota, Kansas City and Detroit. Proceeds go to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.)

The good news is that the KC Royals are playing some of their best ball of the year and getting a lot of production from Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Jorge Bonifacio, among scores of others. The great news is that the Angels are terrible and are missing the only generational talent on their roster.

I mean, that’s not great for baseball, because not getting to watch Mike Trout kinda sucks. But it’s great for the KC Royals.

Anyway, here’s Roxanne.

Game One: Matt Strahm (1-3, 4.50 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (2-7, 4.81 ERA); 9:07 p.m. (CT), Thursday; FSKC

Strahm gets the chance to take the ball as a starter for the first time in the big leagues. I think this is an awful decision—I like Strahm and Mike Minor in their super-long reliever roles—but if you’re going to see what Strahm has as a starter, it’s probably a good idea to do it against a punchless, terrible lineup. It’s less of a good idea to do it in Game One of a four-game series where you may need to see a lot of your bullpen, but Ned Yost has a World Series ring and I do not.

Watch If: You disagree with me, and if you don’t go do much on Thursday night.

Game Two: Ian Kennedy (0-6, 5.40 ERA) vs. Jesse Chavez (5-6, 5.06 ERA); 9:07 p.m. (CT), Friday; FSKC/MLB Network

It’s eventually going to happen for Ian. I don’t know when, or how, but that we’re in mid-June and this guy still doesn’t have a win (as arbitrary as wins are) means the law of averages has to swing towards him eventually.

(Of course, Albert Pujols owns him. 4-for-12 with three homers in his career.)

Watch If: (Something something too little to drink and no date on a Friday night.)

Game Three: Jake Junis (2-0, 4.67 ERA) vs. Alex Meyer (2-3, 4.05 ERA); 7:15 p.m. (CT), Saturday; FOX

Neither of these guys has ever faced the other team. I have nothing to add.

Watch If: Andrelton Simmons is an amazing defensive shortstop. Considering his game is usually finishing up during the late SportsCenter, I feel like he’s fallen off the radar as an Ozzie Smith-level defender since leaving Atlanta.

Game Four: Jason Vargas (9-3, 2.10 ERA) vs. JC Ramirez (6-4, 4.19 ERA); 2:37 p.m. (CT), Sunday; FSKC

Vargas gets his first chance to break into double-digit wins in what probably passes for a pitcher’s duel in this series.

(Jeff Sullivan to the podcast mic… Jeff Sullivan, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs?)

Watch If: Vargas. Watch because Vargas has been Sandy Koufax 2.0 and heaven only knows when (if? I want to say if) it ends.

Predictions Sure to be Wrong

In Game One: Matt Strahm gets confused, goes to the clubhouse after two innings.

Game Two: The camera catches a funny shot of Mike Moustakas looking at Ian Kennedy in the dugout and sadly shaking his head.

Game Three: Junis throws a three-hit shutout and swears at Rustin Dodd in Mandarin postgame.

Next: Homer while you can, guys

Game Four: As the KC Royals plane descends into MCI after a successful road trip ends following yet another sterling Vargas performance, a lone figure appears on the tarmac. It’s Jeff Sullivan, holding a boombox above his head playing Vargy’s warm-up music.