Game 1 ALCS Preview: Orioles vs. Royals

Sports and Bets — October 10, 2014 at 6:34 pm by

It’s finally here, babes. Orioles vs. Royals in a best-of-seven series for a trip to the World Series. Somebody pinch me. The Royals were able to take four out of seven from the O’s during the regular season, but I wouldn’t read much into that. The last game that these two clubs played was all the way back on May 18. That’s ancient history. Plus, that slapdick Ubaldo Jimenez was the starting pitcher in two of those losses. It’s time for the Birds to jump on the Royals early, and take the first step towards punching that World Series ticket.

Game 1: Today at 8:07 PM on TBS
Chris Tillman RHP (13-6) vs. James Shields RHP (14-8)
Tillman’s Season Stats: 207.1 IP, 150 Ks, 3.34 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Tillman’s Last Three Starts: 2-1, 18 IP, 17 Ks, 4.00 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
Tillman’s Postseason Stats: 1 GS, 1-0, 5 IP, 6 Ks, 3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Shields’ Season Stats: 227 IP, 180 Ks, 3.21 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
Shields’ Last Three Starts: 1-0, 17 IP, 16 Ks, 4.76 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
Shields’ Postseason Stats: 2 GS, 1-0, 11 IP, 12 Ks, 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP

Tillman will look to set the tone for the Birds in the ALCS just like he did in Game 1 against the Tigers. Tillman will be making his second career postseason start against a Royals club that has really given him trouble over the years. In five career starts against Kansas City, Tillman is 2-2 with a 6.21 ERA and 1.41 WHIP while striking out 15 batters over 29 innings. This season, however, Tillman was absolutely dominant in his lone start against the Royals. He earned the win after throwing his first career shutout. Tillman allowed only five hits and a walk while striking out three. Tillman has also thrived when pitching at Oriole Park this season. Over 18 regular season home starts, Tillman had a 2.54 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, compared to a 4.31 ERA and 1.34 WHIP over 16 road starts.

Over his career, “Big Game James” hasn’t lived up to his catchy nickname in the playoffs. In eight career postseason starts, Shields is 3-4 with a 4.96 ERA and 1.39 WHIP while striking out 37 batters over 45.1 innings. Shields does boast excellent career numbers against the Birds, though. In 26 starts, Shields is 11-7 with a 3.52 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, and has struck 133 batters over 176.1 innings. This season, Shields has managed to improve on those strong numbers against the O’s. In two starts, Shields has gone 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.07 WHIP while striking out nine batters over 14 innings. Shields has also pitched better out of a suitcase this season. Over 19 road starts, Shields has a 2.97 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, compared to a 3.51 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 15 home starts.

Orioles Lineup with Career Numbers vs. Shields
RF Nick Markakis (L) – 21-for-71 with 2 HRs
LF Alejandro De Aza (L) – 5-for-30
CF Adam Jones (R) – 14-for-46 with a HR
DH Nelson Cruz (R) – 6-for-26 with a HR
1B Steve Pearce (R) – N/A
SS J.J. Hardy (R) – 5-for-18
3B Ryan Flaherty (L) – 0-for-6
C Nick Hundley (R) – 0-for-3
2B Jonathan Schoop (R) – 1-for-6

Royals Lineup with Career Numbers vs. Tillman
SS Alcides Escobar (R) – 4-for-11
RF Nori Aoki (L) – 1-for-4
CF Lorenzo Cain (R) – 1-for-5
1B Eric Hosmer (L) – 1-for-8
DH Billy Butler (R) – 2-for-14 with a HR
RF Alex Gordon (L) – 3-for-13 with 2 HRs
C Salvador Perez (R) – 1-for-6 with a HR
2B Omar Infante (R) – 1-for-2
3B Mike Moustakas (L) – 3-for-8 with a HR

Strengths to Watch

  • Royals’ Speed – The Royals’ 153 steals lead all of baseball this season, and their 81% success rate was the 3rd best in the MLB. They’re 12-for-13 on the base paths through four playoff games.
  • Tillman’s Ability to Limit Running Game – According to ESPN Stats & Info, since 2012, Chris Tillman’s 31.6 stolen base pct is lowest among all pitchers (min. 200 IP).
  • Both Teams’ Bullpens – The Orioles’ bullpen had a regular season ERA of 3.10, which was good for 6th best in the MLB. The Royals’ bullpen had a 3.30 ERA, which was 10th best in baseball. Both teams have several quality arms to choose from, and would love to take their chances with a one-run lead late in the ballgame.

Weaknesses to Watch

  • Royals’ Lack of Power – The Royals hit only 95 home runs this season, which was the lowest in all of baseball. The Royals are much more likely to beat you with a hundred paper cuts than by a couple big blows. Limiting their running game would really hamper their ability to manufacture runs.
  • Orioles’ Lack of Speed – The Birds’ 44 steals put them dead last in the MLB. If the Royals’ talented pitchers are able to keep the O’s in the park, their offense would become very reliant on timely hitting.

Let’s go O’s!

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