Pitching Matchups Key in Royals vs. Angels

Winning game one is always important in a postseason baseball series, but earning a victory in Thursday night's ALDS opener between Kansas City and Los Angeles would be massive for the Royals. When looking at the pitching matchups for this series, game one could be the most difficult for the Royals. The Royals send struggling Jason Vargas out to the mound to square off with Halos ace Jered Weaver.

After a spectacular first half of the season, September proved to be dreadful for Vargas. In five September outings, Vargas went 1-3 with a 6.57 ERA, including two starts where he failed to pitch more than four innings.

Although Weaver hasn't been anything special this season, he's still one of the best big game pitchers in the league. Weaver comes in with a 2.61 ERA in six career postseason appearances. It was also just two years ago that the Angels ace finished third in the Cy Young voting after going 20-5. Therefore, if the Royals can pull off a game one victory, it would certainly feel like they stole one.

It's hard to pick a pitching favorite in game two between Yordano Ventura and Matt Shoemaker. Both pitchers are second-year pitchers with little to no postseason experience. The Angels would probably have a slight advantage due to having the better offense.

Games three and four set up rather nicely for Kansas City. Royals ace James Shields will take the ball in game three against the Halos' C.J. Wilson. This season has been the worst of Wilson's 10-year career. He finished this season with a sub par 4.51 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. Big Game James has proven to consistently keep his team in games this year. He hasn't had an outing in which he hasn't lasted at least five innings. The Royals will have a major starting pitching advantage in game three.

The Royals will most likely send Danny Duffy to the bump in game four. When healthy, Duffy has proven to be Kansas City's most dominant starting pitcher. The Angels will most likely counter with Jered Weaver on short rest. Weaver’s previous experience on short rest has proven to be pretty rough for him. The advantage goes to the Royals.

Game five is a completely different story. The Halos would probably have Shoemaker back on the mound and the Royals would be in a rut. Ned Yost will have to decide if he wants Jeremy Guthrie on the hill or if Vargas will come back and finish out the series. Both pitchers have been the two most inconsistent starters on the staff over the course of this season.

It would be beneficial for the Royals to close the Angels out in four games, so they won't be put in a game five where the Angels might have the clear pitching advantage. That is why game one is so important. If the Royals can take the series opener, they would go into Kansas City with an opportunity to close the Angels out with significant pitching advantages in game three and four.

The Royals will obviously have their hands full trying to tame an Angels offense that led the majors in runs over the regular season. With that being said, the Royals can certainly take control of the series by beating the always difficult Weaver and then feasting off the Angels pitching in games three and four.

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