Royals-Orioles ALCS Preview and Prediction

Unlikely foes break long postseason wins drought

The Baltimore Orioles last won the World Series in 1983, the Kansas City Royals in 1985. Neither team has been back to the Fall Classic since then. Few experts expected either team to be in this position this season. But here we are, with two teams coming off of sweeps in the ALDS. The Orioles have decent starting pitching, a powerful lineup and an extremely good bullpen. The Royals have better starting pitching, a lineup that looks to manufacture runs and as talented a bullpen as anyone. Don’t expect either team to cough up a lead after the sixth inning. Both managers are coming off the first postseason series wins of their careers.

 

Orioles Advantage

The most glaring advantage is in the dugout. Manager Buck Showalter is a master at using his entire 25-man roster and relishes a good chess game. Showalter won’t miss any opportunities, and at some point Royals manager Ned Yost will make a critical error…The Orioles’ bench is more potent than Kansas City’s and will be the difference in at least one game.

 

Royals Advantage

With the injuries to catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado, and the suspension of first baseman Chris Davis, most managers would choose the Royals’ lineup over Baltimore’s going into a seven-game series…The Royals are even better than the Orioles in closing out wins. The Combination of Wade Davis and Greg Holland in the eighth and ninth innings is as lethal as there is in the majors.

 

Key Players

Game 1 Oct. 10 (8 pm) at Balt.
Game 2 Oct. 11 (4 pm) at Balt.
Game 3 Oct. 13 (TBD) at KC 
Game 4 Oct. 14 (TBD) at KC
Game 5* Oct. 15 (TBD) at KC
Game 6* Oct. 17 (TBD) at Balt.
Game 7* Oct. 18 (TBD) at Balt.
*If necessary, all times ET
Expect to see catcher Caleb Joseph more in this series. He nailed 48 percent of would-be basestealers this season, much better than Nick Hundley’s 19 percent…Wei-Yin Chen, scheduled to pitch Game 2 for Baltimore, must prevent the Royals from stealing home-field advantage — or going back to Kansas City up 2-0. The lefty hasn’t had great success against the core of the Royals’ lineup. Lorenzo Cain, Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer all have a good history against Chen…Kelvin Herrera, one of Kansas City’s excellent setup men, has been adept at stranding runners this season. He stranded 34 of the 43 runners he inherited this season, and had just one blown save/hold opportunity in 21 chances. The bridge from the starters to Wade Davis and Greg Holland is Herrera, and he will likely be called upon in every game.

 

Key Stats

In more than 200 innings this season, there were only four stolen base attempts with Baltimore’s Chris Tillman on the mound, and only one was successful…Kansas City led the majors with 153 stolen bases (the Dodgers were second with 138), and enjoyed a success rate of 81 percent, among the best in the majors…The Royals are 72-1 when leading after the seventh inning…The Orioles are 75-7 when leading after the seventh…Baltimore pinch-hitters hit .313 to lead the majors this season. The American League average was just .223. Kansas City subs hit just .209 with only nine pinch-hits, tied with Houston for fewest in the big leagues.

 

Prediction: Orioles in 6

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