Why Friday could be especially bad for the KC Royals
The KC Royals open a 10-game road trip Friday night against the Angels, freeing them for now from the so-far unfriendly confines of Kauffman Stadium, where they've won only once in 13 tries this season.
Kansas City fans should not, however, get their hopes up for the change of scenery altering this club's fortunes. At least not immediately, and certainly not Friday evening.
The Royals, 4-15 and currently saved only by Oakland (3-16) from being the majors' worst team, have little chance of defeating the Angels in the opener of the clubs' three-game weekend series. That's because the remarkable Shohei Ohtani will come at them from the mound and probably the plate Friday.
And he absolutely feasts on Kansas City.
LA's formidable 2-way star has been unforgiving against the KC Royals
Ohtani hasn't faced the Royals this season, but nothing about them suggests they'll beat him Friday. As a team, they simply can't hit—as most KC fans know all too well, through Wednesday's games they rank last in the majors in average (.208), OBP (.264), slugging (.331) and OPS (.595). They've also walked more times than only Arizona, and struck out fewer times than just five teams.
And if all that isn't awful enough, Ohtani rarely gives Kansas City any breaks. Yes, it's a small sample, but he's handed the Royals only one run and struck out 17 in the 12 innings he's pitched against them since breaking into the big leagues in 2018. Those numbers translate to a 2-0, 0.75 ERA mastery of the American League Central's last-place team.
Ohtani also punishes KC at the plate. In 18 games against them, he's slashing .390/.507/.814 with a 1.320 OPS, six home runs, and 21 RBIs.
Just as impressive are this season's Ohtani stats. Through Wednesday, he's 2-0, 0.86 on the mound and hitting .281 with four homers and 11 runs driven in.
No time is a good time to square off against Ohtani, but having to battle him Friday night in LA is a worst-case scenario for these Royals.
The KC Royals won't have much going for them on the mound against LA
Kansas City has no one with whom to adequately counter Ohtani. In fact, and to address the shortage of starters occasioned by Kris Bubic's injury-driven absence, it appears manager Matt Quatraro will, per MLB.com KC beat writer Anne Rogers, resort to an "opener" Friday:
Quatraro's decision doesn't bode particularly well for the Royals. Look for Clarke, 1-0, to go only an inning or two; unfortunately, he has a 6.75 ERA in seven games and surrendered three runs on four hits and a walk against Texas Wednesday night. Yarbrough's numbers are worse—he's 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA over 12 innings and, just two games after the Giants scored three times against him in 1.1 innings, Atlanta drilled him for four runs in 2.1 frames Saturday.
The proverbial deck is, then, stacked against Kansas City Friday.