Farewell JBJ & Series Preview - Red Sox (53-53) @ Royals (41-64)
The new-look Red Sox roll into KC fresh off a series win against the defending AL Champs. But, before we get to that, there is some business to attend to...
Please hit play on the following video:
Jackie Bradley Jr was DFA'd this morning by the Red Sox. I feel like I have been saying this all week - it's the right move, but it still SUCKS. AC said yesterday that JBJ would be a defensive replacement, but it looks like he won't even be that anymore. I won't get into his stats, just the highlights from probably the best defensive outfielder we've ever seen.
My personal favorite:
How I watched my personal favorite:
Onto the Royals: The Matchups
Thursday, August 4th 8:10 PM - Nick Pivetta (8-8, 4.47 ERA) vs Kris Bubic (2-6, 5.45 ERA)
Friday, August 5th 8:10 PM - TBD vs Zack Greinke (3-6, 4.41 ERA)
Saturday, August 6th 7:10 PM - Nathan Eovaldi (5-3, 4.11 ERA) vs Daniel Lynch (4-7, 4.70 ERA)
Sunday, August 7th 2:10 PM - Kutter Crawford (3-3, 3.86 ERA) vs Brad Keller (5-12, 4.61 ERA)
Finally, a breath of normalcy. That series against the Astros was just overall a strange one because it felt so small in the context of what was going on in the rest of the MLB. We are just hands down a better team than the Royals. They are 3-7 over their last 10 games. They lost Benintendi and Whit Merrifield at the deadline. Whenever we have a series against an opponent like this, I always ask myself "If you text a casual MLB fan right now and ask them to name one player on this team, can they?" For the Royals, I think the only player you may get back is Salvy? Maybe they know that Grienke pitches for them now? Either way, this is one of those rare 4-game sets where losing one game would be disappointing.
The Royals lineup is headlined by Bobby Witt Jr. The 21 year old 2nd overall pick from 2019 is the son of former MLB pitcher Bobby Witt. In his first season, Witt is slashing .255/.298/.455 with 15 HRs and 52 RBI. He may also be the fastest person in major league baseball. His spray chart gives some insight just to how he operates:
That is a shitload of balls that should be outs, but are turned into singles because of his speed. There's a lot of parallels with another fast as fuck shortstop that wears blue, and that is Trea Turner. I took a look at his spray chart and to me it looks like a pretty spot on comp for his potential in the future.
If Witt can work on his plate discipline, he has all the makings of an All-Star for years to come.
Beyond Witt, the Royals have one of the best catchers of our generation in Salvador Perez. He is a 7-time All-Star, 5-time Gold Glover, and 4-time Silver Slugger. He also finished 7th in MVP voting last year. This year has definitely been a downturn for Perez, after leading the league with 48 HRs last season, he is down to only 14 this year with a .694 OPS. He also was sidelined for about a month from June to July after needing surgery on his thumb. All-in-all, it ain't the same Salvy, but it's still Salvy.
Starting tonight, it's Pivetta v Bubic. Something of note off the top - Bubic rhymes with pubic, so watch out for that. Although Bubic has less than stellar numbers and percentile rankings, he actually has had a few solid outings coming into this one. In his last three performances (against the Blue Jays, Rays, and Yankees), he has gone a total of 20 innings allowing 5 ERs. That's pretty damn good against some of the best lineups in baseball. This season on a whole though has been a pretty rough one for Bubic. Here's a look:
Hey at least he has a pretty good spin-rate right?? He throws your Nana's homemade meatballs at 92 right down the middle, followed up with an 81 MPH change, and actually a pretty decent curveball at 79. JD has taken him deep, but surprisingly X and Raffy are 0-3 against him. Hopefully that changes tonight, and our offense goes from pretty much stagnant for all but 3 guys to a playoff contender offense.
Pivetta takes the bump for the Sox, and boy oh boy does he need a good night tonight. In July, Pivetta threw 24 innings and allowed 25 runs. According to researchers at Harvard, MIT, Oxford, and Babson college (the big 4 for baseball statistics research they call them), allowing more runs than innings pitched over a whole month is bad. I regret to inform the people that Nick Pivetta may not be winning the Cy Young this year. So how does he fare against the Royals lineup? Bad! Michael Taylor specifically owns him, going 7 for 14 with 2 doubles and a home run. Hunter Dozier is 2 for 5, and Nicky Lopez is 2 for 4. What I'm hoping for is at least 5 innings of less than 2 runs. If Pivetta can give us that, I can feel better about him going into his next start, likely against the defending World Series Champions. Tonight's probably going over folks.
Friday night, we get to see everyone's favorite psychopath Zack Greinke. He may be having a shit year, but he did give us one of the best owns of an adult autograph seeker that I've heard of:
According to Greinke, he saw this guy pushing kids out of the way, so good for him. Fuck that guy.
Aside from shoving nerds into lockers, the other thing Greinke is good at is letting up hits. Although his walk rate is 93rd percentile in the league, his xBA is in the bottom 2% of the league. He still has the control, but he can't get the ball past batters anymore at the ripe old age of 38. Back in 2015, his fastball was sitting at 92, but has steadily dropped year over year since then, dragging down to 88.5 where it stands today. He's had to really mix up what he throws, opting for the fastball only 36% of the time, and throwing his curveball, changeup, slider, and cutter fairly interchangeably beyond that.
Being in the league so long, he's faced pretty much everyone there is to face. JD has had the most success at 5 for 18 with 2 HRs. X is 2 for 3 with a home run and a double, and Devers is 1 for 2. Pham and Dugie struggle against him, combining for 4 hits over 27 ABs and 9 Ks. I think this is pretty cut and dry, the middle of our order will eat. It should be enough, and hopefully one of the supporting guys can add some runs.
Saturday, Eovaldi is back. Last time we saw him, it was an emotional performance of 6.1 IP with 0 ER. I thought it'd be his last time wearing a Sox jersey, and I'm thankful that I was wrong. Nate's the balls, and I genuinely enjoy watching him pitch. He also shoves the ball up the collective asses of the Royals lineup, since they are batting .195 in 41 ABs against him, with fucking zero walks and 14 Ks. Nate's going deep in this one. I think we see an even better performance than his CG back in May. I need it like I need air to breath. Nicky Lopez and Hunter Dozier are the only guys that have challenged Eovaldi, both 3 for 6 with a double. Apparently, those were rinky dink hits because the xBA for them is .208 and .243, so I wouldn't read too much into them both batting .500 off him. Outside of that, no one else has more than a hit.
The Sox get Daniel Lynch. Never fucking heard of him. He's actually pretty decent based on what I'm seeing. Most recently, on August 1st, he went 5.1 innings allowing 0 runs to the White Sox, striking out 7 and walking none. He has good velocity on his fastball at 94, then it drops to 86 and 85 respectively for his slider and changeup. He also just looks like a pitcher. 6'6, a weight of 200 lbs that I do not buy for one second, flowy hair, lanky as a motherfucker, and ears that get XM radio. Buddy is built like a trebuchet:
Advanced analytics from yours truly, only available at talkinsox.com. Sox roll in this one, it should be a comfortable win.
In the Sunday finale, it's Crawford and Keller. Kutter has been a fucking delight to watch develop this season. He started with a 9 ERA in April, then had a 7.36 ERA in May, down to a 4.00 in June, then a 2.57 in July. He's a very good pitcher and belongs on our major league roster. I expect Sunday to be another strong performance for him, but if he gets into trouble I think we see a quick hook. Eovaldi will go deep on Saturday, and we have an off day on Monday, so there won't be much worry about bullpen fatigue.
Brad Keller is who the Red Sox will get. He's a slider first pitcher, going with it 35% of the time, then following up with a fastball and sinker 60% of the time and a changeup to make up the last 5% of the time. The fastball is at 94 and the slider is at 87. Based on his numbers, he's just kinda meh? Doesn't strike guys out but won't let up super loud contact. However, the Sox shell him, carrying a .361 BA into this matchup in 72 ABs, with 4 doubles, 3 triples, and 2 home runs. Fuck it, lets get weird with a prediction. Either Tommy Pham or Yolmer Sanchez are going yard in this one. Pham has an xSLG of .833 and Sanchez is 7 for 23 against Keller.
So that's that. Go out there and get the 4-game sweep. We're only 3 games out. Baltimore is pulling over to let the big boys pass and Tony La Russa is literally falling asleep during games. Please at least pass those teams this weekend. Have a good one, folks.