AL Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Kansas City Royals, May 26-28, 2014

Ed Zurga

The Astros head to face the Royals in what can be dubbed the Carlos Beltran Classic or the Robert Ford Invitational.

Houston Astros (19-32) at Kansas City Royals (24-25)

In my ongoing quest to have  name for each series, I'm considering the Carlos Beltran Classic or the Robert Ford Invitational. Since Ford is still with the Astros, I will give him the nod. On to more important things, the Astros coming on a two-game winning streak and a split of four games with the Mariners. The Royals also had a quick turn around as they dropped two-of-three against the Angels and are heading back from Anaheim. The Royals swept the Astros last time the two teams met in Houston. The Astros are hoping to return the favor in Kansas City.

And we'll never be Royals...

Interesting fact, singer Lorde came up with the lyrics for Royals after seeing a photo of George Brett. That said I'm sure Royals are beyond sick and tired of that song and puns related to it. Things are going to plan for Kansas City, they have record of 10-13 in the month of May. The team recently sent everyday third baseman Mike Moustakas down as he was batting .152 (19-125) with four home runs.

As we always do let's take a look at how the Royals have been hitting coming into the week. Nori Aoki, a sneaky-smart pick up this offseason, has been hitting .375 (9-24) with five runs scored in the team's last six games. In Moustakas' absence, Danny Valencia and Jimmy Paredes (watch out Royals infielders) taken his place. Valencia is batting .267 (4-15) with two double in the four games he's played this past week. Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, and Eric Hosmer have yet to break out this season. Salvador Perez spent a week on the shelf with a sore hand last week, he is .321 (27-84) this past month.

It gets better...

The Astros have been playing watchable baseball, a vast improvement of the last month of 2013 and the first month of 2014. Jose Altuve has lead the charge for the Astros offense leading the league in hits with 70, four ahead of Melky Cabrera at 66. The Astros' second baseman is batting .483 (14-29) with three double in the team's last seven games. George Springer has come to life much to the chagrin of our editor,  hitting home runs in three straight games coming into Kansas City.

Robbie Grossman returns to the big club and will be inserting into the starting lineup in left. Pushing Alex Presley (batting .190 in last 21 at-bats) to the bench and L.J. Hoes (0-for-5 in two games this week) to the minors. Jason Castro has still been strikeout happy, going 7-27 this past week with nine strikeouts. Dexter Fowler continues to be a walking machine, has has four in his last 25 at-bats.

Pitching Matchups

RHP Scott Feldman (2-2, 3.02 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) vs. RHP Yordano Ventura (2-4, 2.80 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)

Yordano Ventura started out the season of fire, allowing one run or less in four of his first five starts. He has lost his lost his last three decisions coming into tonight's game. He has given up nine earned runs over his last 18.2 innings. "Ace" Ventura reminds me of Jared Cosart in a way, electric stuff that can dominate any lineup but he doesn't have it under control yet. He threw three wild pitches in his last game. His previous outing against the Astros is an example of what can happen when he's on his game - 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO.

Carlos Corporan touched up Ventura for a home run in that one meeting. Dexter Fowler added a double.

Scott Feldman hasn't been the same since he went on the disabled list with a forearm strain. He has pitched one quality start since return in four chances. In his most recent outing he gave up eight runs (three earned) over four innings against the Angels.  Feldman's bread and butter, the curveball and sinker, haven't looked as effective of last.

Billy Butler could has had 30 at-bats against Feldman in his career, for the most part the Astros veteran has shut him down holding him to six hits and one home run. Alex Gordon has had his way with Feldman on the other hand, going 8-for-21 in his career with a double and a triple. Erik Hosmer checks in with .154 (2-13) average against Feldman, and Alcides Escobar is 2-for-15.

RHP Collin McHugh (2-3, 3.32 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (2-3, 4.39 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) 
  • Nori Aoki 2-3, 1 RBI vs. McHugh
  • Jose Altuve 3-11, 2 RBI vs. Guthrie
  • Jason Castro 4-10, 3B, 2 HR vs. Guthrie
  • Marc Krauss 2-3,1 HR vs. Guthrie
RHP Jarred Cosart (3-4, 4.39 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) vs. LHP Danny Duffy (2-4, 2.59 ERA, 1.02 WHIP)

Predictions

I'm going to go out on a limb, the Astros have been playing good baseball for a better part of a month. The Astros will take two of three from the Royals.


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