Royals @ Mets Preview

The Mets have started their 13-game homestand off on the right foot, winning 4 of their first 6 games after taking the series from the Twins with a 3-2 win Thursday night. And things could not be looking any better for New York as the struggling Kansas City Royals, boasting the league's worst pitching staff, come to Shea Stadium for a three game series this weekend.

The Royals (25-44) have started their nine-game road trip with six straight losses (they have a 7-game losing streak overall) after losing 5-4 to the Expos in 11 innings Thursday, falling victim to a sweep at the hands of Montreal. One main reason why the Royals are struggling? The Royals' pitching staff has allowed at least five runs per game in their last five games.

Conversely, the Mets appear to be on the brink of making their traditional mid-season turnaround after winning their last two series against two, very tough opponents in the Yankees and Twins. Hopefully New York will not overlook the Royals with Atlanta coming to Shea for a 4-game series on Monday AND with Part II of the Subway Series concluding next weekend at Yankee Stadium.

Pitching


It will be the second series of the year for Royals' new pitching coach John Cumberland. Cumberland replaced Al Nipper on June 18, and it remains to be seen how this change will effect the Royals as they enter New York. Kansas City sends Darrell May (2-4, 5.20 ERA) to start the series against Shawn Estes (3-5, 4.38 ERA). Estes is coming off what will probably be his biggest-hyped game of the season, when he faced Roger Clemens and the Yankees.

Game two features Paul Byrd (8-5, 4.40 ERA) against Pedro Astacio (7-2, 2.71 ERA) in a battle of each team's best pitcher. Byrd is on pace to win 19 games for a team on pace to lose 103 games.

The series closes out with rookie Shawn Sedlacek against Jeff D'Amico (4-6, 4.18 ERA). This will be Sedlacek's second big league game. His only other game came on June 18 when he went five and two thirds innings giving up two runs to the Expos.

A Closer Look


The Royals have a new pitching coach in John Cumberland, but honestly, does the Royals' head office think that changing the pitching coach will suddenly knock a run off that team ERA of 5.28? Nobody's that optimistic- no it looks like former pitching coach Al Nipper was just the scapegoat for a team with much deaper problem than the pitching coach.

Is pitching a problem for the Royals? Yes, their 5.28 team ERA is dead last in the majors. There just is not much good to say about the Royals' pitching. Paul Byrd has eight wins, but has pitched rather unspectacularly. His personal ERA is better than only half of the team ERAs in the American League; and he is Kansas City's best pitcher!

Then look at their offense. They have scored more runs than only three AL teams; the Indians, Devil Rays, and Tigers. Oh, and by the way- they a major league low, 50 home runs. The Yankees have more than double that (115). With such pathetic pitching and offense, the Royals are a poor team this year. It is hard to say that a new pitching coach is going to turn things around for them.

Notes


OF Carlos Beltran is not one to blame for the Royals' recent struggles. Beltran has hit 3 HRs & driven in 9 runs in his last 12 games, although he struck out 13 times in the span....If there isn't a bigger sign of how many hitters are struggling for KC, we don't know what is: 1B Mike Sweeney is 15 for his last 43 (.349) in the last 11 games, but has just one RBI to show for it!....OF Chuck Knoblauch has been on the DL since June 6th with a strained left foremarm and is not expected to play in this series....OF Michael Tucker, one of the few healthy outfielders for the Royals, has just 7 hits in his last 39 at-bats (.179) and ONE RBI in his last 15 games....

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