Kansas City Royals vs. Baltimore Orioles:
After the Royals and Orioles both swept away the Angels and Tigers respectively, they find themselves fighting against each other for an AL pennant and a chance to play for a World Series Championship. For both of these teams it is unchartered waters. It has been well documented that the Royals haven’t been in the postseason since 1985 and for the Orioles, they haven’t been this far since 1997. This series will be good for baseball because these teams aren’t the Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox, etc. who have been here before in the past couple years. These are relatively new teams to the big stage, which is why this has the potential to be a fantastic series.
Both teams can smash the ball around the yard. Eric Hosmer and Nelson Cruz really turned it on once October came calling and lifted their teams at the plate. On the mound, the Royals got solid pitching from their rotation to go along with ‘Big Game’ James Shields at the front of that rotation. The Orioles bullpen was fantastic against the Tigers and it really helps when you have a manager in Buck Showalter that can manage that bullpen to perfection like he did in the ALDS. But, I don’t know if it can get better than what the Royals have in that bullpen with the three-headed monster in Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland to close it down. Baltimore’s starting pitching should be something to watch only because they don’t have that go-to ace pitcher like the Royals do in James Shields. Don’t get me wrong, the Orioles starters are capable of getting the job done, but can they step up when the team needs them to?
Two players to keep an eye on are Jonathan Schoop for the Orioles and Mike Moustakas for the Royals. These players will have an impact on this series in the field and at the plate whether it is good or bad. If Baltimore can get some production from the bottom part of the order, Schoop will have something to do with that and that will make a difference in this series. For the Royals, Moustakas started to find his groove offensively in the ALDS and helped the Royals advance. If he can keep that up, the Royals order will be a force to be reckon with.
Matchup to watch:
Caleb Joseph vs. Royals base-stealers
We all know the Royals can run, but if Orioles pitchers can help Joseph by holding runners on, the Royals will be giving away valuable outs on the base paths. If the Royals can get loose swiping bags, it will be a long series for Baltimore.
Salvador Perez vs. Caleb Joseph
Eric Hosmer vs. Steve Pearce
Omar Infante vs. Jonathan Schoop
Alcides Escobar vs. JJ Hardy
Mike Moustakas vs. Ryan Flaherty
Alex Gordon vs. Alejandro De Aza
Lorenzo Cain vs. Adam Jones
Edge: Orioles (not by much)
Nori Aoki vs. Nick Markakis
Billy Butler vs. Nelson Cruz
Shields, Ventura, Duffy, Vargas vs. Tillman, Chen, Gonzalez, Norris
Holland, Davis, Herrera, Finnegan vs. Britton, Miller, Hunter, O’Day
Royals’ speed vs. Orioles bats
Edge: Royals speed
Yost vs. Showalter
Royals in 6
This team just seems to be the team of destiny. From Wild Card comeback, to sweep of the best team in baseball, this team just doesn’t look like they’re going to let up. The speed factor of the Royals just seems like too much to overcome especially with a catcher like Caleb Joseph who isn’t named Matt Wieters. Pitching always seems to win out at this time of year and the Royals seem to be more solidified at that spot at the moment. The only thing that I could see holding this team back is their manager Ned Yost. He has made some questionable decisions, but I think his team can overcome those and win the AL pennant.
Seattle sports fan and MLB writer for International Sports Hub