Washington Nationals At Kansas City Royals Series Preview (5/3-5/5)
By Ricky Keeler
The Washington Nationals will begin a series tonight against the defending World Series Champions
The Washington Nationals (17-7) got their ten game road trip off to a great start over the weekend as they swept the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. It was their club’s first sweep of the Cardinals since they became the Nationals in 2005. The main story was the starting pitching as Stephen Strasburg, Joe Ross, and Max Scherzer combined to give up three runs in the series.
As for the offense, other players stepped up for the April NL Player of the Month Bryce Harper, who went 0-for-11 with two walks and five strikeouts. Jayson Werth went 4-for-10 with a home run and five RBI’s and Daniel Murphy drove in a run in all three games. Plus, the Nats got home runs yesterday from Clint Robinson and Danny Espinosa (two in the series).
The road trip continues tonight as the Washington Nationals start a three game series against the defending World Series champions, the Kansas City Royals (13-11). Kansas City comes into tonight having lost five of their last six games and they trail the White Sox by four games in the AL Central.
The struggles for Ned Yost’s club have come on offense. Their 81 runs scored are tied with the Yankees for the second lowest in the American League and they have 11 runs in their last six games. With that being said, first baseman Eric Hosmer leads the team in batting average (.333) and hits (31). Plus, catcher/World Series MVP Salvador Perez leads the team in RBI’s with 14, including nine of them at home.
At the same time, the Royals aren’t a team that relies on the long ball. Instead, they are a team that plays small ball and allows the other team to make a mistake. They are second in baseball in stolen bases (20) behind only the Boston Red Sox (22). Keep in mind that Kansas City was second in the AL last year in steals with 104 (Houston had 121).
On the mound, the Royals’ rotation has a 3.99 ERA, which is eighth in the AL. So far, their new acquisition, Ian Kennedy, has the lowest ERA of the five starters (2.61) and thrown the most innings (31). However, Kennedy will not be pitching in this series after he helped Kansas City snap their five game losing streak yesterday.
When you talk about the Royals, the strength has been their bullpen over the last two seasons. This year, it remains true as KC’s bullpen is third in the AL in ERA (2.37). Closer Wade Davis is 10-for-10 in saves and Kelvim Hererra has yet to give up a run in 13 appearances. However, Joakim Soria has struggled in his return to the Royals (5.25 ERA) and Luke Hochevar is battling elbow tightness:
Here is my breakdown of the three pitching matchups in this series:
Next: Tonight's Matchup