As HLP mentioned yesterday, the Astros second half is not built favorably for a second half surge, as is the norm in Houston for the last few years. So today's series focuses on a the latter part of that first half schedule against a perennial cellar-dweller, but one that lives and breathes in the AL. Like it or not, the AL has owned the NL for the last few years in inter-league play it is the main reason you see such a plethora of 90+ win teams in the AL. For the Astros to finish off their first half, and the second to last inter-league series, with a series win of the Royals, it would be a great thing.
So who is standing in the way of making this happen? Well, if you want the long winded fan perspective on how the Royals could be great, click here. Otherwise, I'll take a gander at their roster and see how it shapes up—not too many people as I see it.
As far as their pitching goes, the Astros need to avoid facing off against Zack Greinke, who is a phenomenally underrated fantasy sleeper. At just twenty five years of age, Greinke has a bright future ahead of him. CHONE projects him to post a near 3.00 K:BB and dominant 7.82 K/9; yes those are Oswaltian numbers.
Gil Meche will be the other name to avoid. The thirty year old veteran is supposed sport solid peripherals (7.21 K/9 and a 2.26 K:BB) and is the equivalent, loosely, to our Wandy.
After that, the rotation is primed for a beating or two. It's impossible to say where we'll be or where they'll be in their rotation, but a few over-matches could go a long way towards ensuring strong probabilities in our favor here.
Oh, they also have some phenomenal closer...Soria something or another.
The Royals' offense is where they really fall apart. Anchored by a nucleus of Alex Gordon (3B) and Billy Butler (DH/1B), their aren't lot of bright spots in the line up besides Mike Aviles (SS), who is projected, by PECOTA, to OPS .716. When your third best hitter is projected to be your light hitting SS, you're in for trouble. Hopefully, even our back end guys can produce solid outings against the Royals. Seeing Coco Crisp could be a fun reason to go the ball park, though.
While this isn't a sexy series, it's a series that can provide a needed boost to finish out June, and inter-league with a few more W's.