That's the Ticket: Royal Pain
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsChris Young (RH, 3.15 ERA 78K/41BB/117 IP) vs.
Ervin Santana (RH, 4.10 ERA, 79K/33BB/101 IP)
If Tommy Milone was right-handed, 36 years old and 6’10” he would be Chris Young. OK, he wouldn’t be. He would still be Tommy Milone, because that’s in the premise of the statement. But he would throw as hard as Young. Actually harder, Because Chris Young doesn't throw very hard. That's my point.
Young was moved to the bullpen when the Royals acquired Johnny Cueto at the trade deadline, but returned to the rotation last week and threw five innings of no-hit baseball in his first start. His last two games versus the Twins also went very well, completing 11.2 IP and giving up just one earned run. This is going to much trickier to win than it looks on paper.
Yordano Ventura (RH, 4.20 ERA, 145K/55 BB/156.1 IP) vs.
Tommy Milone (LH, 4.04 ERA, 86K/34BB/122.2 IP)
You may have heard that Ventura was struggling this year and sent to AAA. He was – for about 24 hours. The next day the Royals found out that Jason Vargas had a torn left UCL and Ventura was brought back. He’s been a little bit better since then, but was absolutely outstanding in his last start against the Cubs on Monday. He pitched seven shutout innings, striking out six and giving up just two hits.
He also might be certifiably insane. If the Twins get worked up about a bat flip, it’ll be interesting to see what could happen if Ventura starts getting all loco. If you’re into anarchy or nihilism or hockey, this is the game I would recommend.
By the way, the Royals don’t struggle much with left-handed pitchers, hitting just slightly lower against them. In particular, you might want to do that weird thing you do "for luck" when Lorenzo Cain (934 OPS vs LHs) and Alex Gordon (819 OPS vs LHs) are up.
Johnny Cueto (RH, 4.95 ERA, 52K/13BB/76.1 IP) vs.
Kyle Gibson? (RH, 3.84 ERA, 145K/65BB/194.2 IP)
And if the Twins are facing a must-win game on Sunday, all they have to do is beat last year’s NL Cy Young Award runner-up. Sigh.
The good news is that Cueto hasn’t been nearly as good since he joined the Royals. In fact, he had a five game stretch at the end of August and beginning of September in which he was terrible, posting a 9.57 ERA. He’s been better his last three starts, but far from dominant: 3.60 ERA, 11K and 5 BB in 20 IP. The recent improvement is from him not giving up quite as many home runs. If it looks like the Twins are making solid contact (or if the wind is blowing out), their task might not be as hard as it seems.