Having earned their second sweep in a row, the Boston Red Sox (11-4, 2.5 games ahead in the AL East) return home to Fenway Park for a three-game series (which will start TBA due to the ongoing manhunt for the Boston Marathon bomber) against the Kansas City Royals (8-6, .5 games back in the AL Central). The Red Sox are on a six-game win streak, while the Royals won their last game. The Royals are currently in second place in the AL Central, but can they sustain that during the year?
James Shields (against Clay Buchholz in the opener) was the prize (on the Royals side) in the off-season trade with the Rays, and so far the Royals are getting just what they expected. So far in 2013, Shields has posted a pitching line of 3.43 ERA/2.84 FIP/3.00 xFIP, with peripherals of 8.57 K/9, 1.29 BB/9, 0.86 HR/9, 74.3% LOB, 46.8% GB, and 9.5% HR/FB ratio, all of which are very close to Shields’s statistics in his last two years for the Rays. The Royals had to get an ace to trade Wil Myers and it looks like they got one.
Ervin Santana (facing Ryan Dempster) came to the Royals in a trade with the Angels that could be viewed as a salary dump by the Angels. Santana’s 2012 was a disaster – to wit: 5.16 ERA/5.63 FIP/4.48 xFIP, 131 ERA-/142 FIP-/108 xFIP-, -1.0 WAR, 18.9% HR/FB ratio, 39 homers surrendered. However, Santana pitched fairly well for the Angels in 2010 and 2011. The Royals obviously hope they got the latter Santana rather than the former. So far in 2013, the Royals have gotten a bit of each. Santana’s 2013 pitching line is 2.45 ERA/4.54 FIP/3.76 xFIP but he has given up 4 homers in 22 innings (16.0% HR/FB). Good luck, Royals.
Jeremy Guthrie (versus Felix Doubront in the finale), a free agent signing this winter, is off to a good but worrying start in 2013 for the Royals. Guthrie’s 2013 ERA of 3.20 and FIP of 3.45 is pretty good but his FIP of 5.27 is, according to Fan Graphs, beyond “awful.” Surrendering 5 home runs in 19.2 innings will do that.
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
During the last two weeks, the hot Royals have been Billy Butler (.276/.462/.517, .416 wOBA, 171 wRC, with an impressive 23.1% walk rate), Lorenzo Cain (.385/.432/.436, .383 wOBA, 148 wRC), Chris Getz (.314/.314/.571, .376 wOBA, 143 wRC, with his first homer in 1,144 plate appearances) and Alex Gordon (.367/.380/.469, .369 wOBA, 138 wRC). On the flip side, the cold Royals with the bat have been Mike Moustakas (.206/.270/.235, .234 wOBA, 43 wRC) and Salvador Perez (.261/.277/.326, .265 wOBA, 65 wRC).
In the Royals’ bullpen, Tim Collins (0.00 ERA/1.02 FIP/1.80 xFIP, .111 BABIP), Luke Hochaver (0.00 ERA/0.98 FIP/2.66 xFIP, .167 BABIP), Bruce Chen (0.00 ERA/1.08 FIP/3.18 xFIP, .182 BABIP) and Aaron Crow (0.00 ERA/2.65 FIP/3.25 xFIP, .200 BABIP) have had very good fortnights, Kelvin Herrera (7.20 ERA/8.28 FIP/2.44 xFIP, .300 BABIP) and Juan Gutierrez (11.57 ERA/7.37 FIP/2.99 xFIP, .200 BABIP) had some bad luck with the home run, and closer Greg Holland (12.00 ERA/3.42 FIP/4.35 xFIP, .667 BABIP) is allowing too many runners via walks and hits to be successful.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
In the last two weeks, Daniel Nava (.303/.390/.576, .390 wOBA, 148 wRC), Mike Napoli (.294/.308/.588, .379 wOBA, 141 wRC) and Dustin Pedroia (.311/.415/.356, .346 wOBA, 118 wRC) have been the hot hitters for the Red Sox, with a special mention going out to Mike Carp (.571/.571/1.143, .716 wOBA, 377 wRC) for awesomeness in a part-time role. However, Jonny Gomes (.063/.375/.063, .267 wOBA, 62 wRC) and Stephen Drew (.087/.222/.130, .182 wOBA, 2 wRC) had holes in their bats.
As for Red Sox bullpen in the last two weeks, Koji Uehara (0.0 ERA/0.79 FIP/2.51 xFIP, .182 BABIP) and Alex Wilson (0.00 ERA/3.75 FIP/3.75 xFIP, .167 BABIP) earned the Blutarsky ERA Award, while Junichi Tazawa (1.50 ERA/2.58 FIP/1.81 xFIP, .231 BABIP), Andrew Bailey (1.29 ERA/0.80 FIP/2.59 xFIP, .231 BABIP) and Clayton Mortensen (1.59 ERA/1.49 FIP/2.73 xFIP, .267 BABIP) have also pitched well. Andrew Miller (4.50 ERA/3.08 FIP/3.08 xFIP, .500 BABIP) has been a bit unlucky but has pitched fairly well. This could be the best Red Sox bullpen of my lifetime.
Stay safe, Boston.