April 08, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) celebrates with his teammates after scoring to tie the game against the Minnesota Twins during the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Royals vs. Braves Series Preview

The Royals begin a two game series against the Atlanta Braves tonight in Atlanta. Here are some notes to keep in mind before the first pitch.

March 20, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Minor (36) delivers a pitch during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

PITCHING PROBABLES 

Tuesday: Jeremy Guthrie (2-0, 3.55) vs. Kris Medlen (1-1, 1.50)

Wednesday: Wade Davis (1-0, 4.00) vs. Mike Minor (2-0, 0.69)

Dating back to last year, Guthrie is on a 13-game streak of not being handed a loss. He’s gone at least six innings and has won seven games during that streak, something the Royals hope he extends tonight against Medlen.

Davis has looked shaky in both of his starts even though he did not allow a run in his previous start against Minnesota. Justin Upton is crushing the ball and is the reason the Braves are scoring over 5 runs per game. The margin of error Davis will have Wednesday afternoon will be very small.

Medlen and Minor have had excellent starts to their seasons, but Minor’s is the most impressive. Minor is striking out nearly a batter per inning while having walked just one in 13 innings. The Royals have had a lot of trouble with hard throwing lefties this season and there is no reason to think Minor will be an exception to that rule.

April 5, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (8) celebrates a home run with first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

BATTING BITS

– Here is Justin Upton’s season line: 16-for-46 (.348), 7 home runs, 11 RBI, 12 runs scored, 6 walks, 13 strikeouts, 1.306 OPS. Good.

– Here is B.J. Upton‘s season line: 7-for-43 (.162), 1 home run, 2 RBI, 4 runs scored, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts, .529 OPS. Bad.

– Here is Jason Heyward‘s season line: 4-for-39 (.103), 1 home run, 4 RBI, 7 runs scored, 7 walks, 7 strikeouts, .491 OPS. Ugly.

– Five of Atlanta’s eight position players have an OPS under .659. Justin has been so awesome (and the Braves have drawn enough walks) that the offense is still producing 5 runs a game. Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson have also had blazing stars to the season.

– The Royals have four home runs this season in three games. Kansas City is 3-0 in games they have homered in, 4-5 in games they have not.

– Kansas City could afford to take a few more walks. The team currently ranks 14th of 15 American League teams in walks with 30 and Billy Butler has 10 of those walks. Salvador Perez and Jeff Francoeur have walked just once this season while Chris Getz has yet to walk at all in 38 plate appearances. Eric Hosmer is second on the team in walks with five. If Hosmer is still hurt and Billy is left on the bench again in the National League park, half of the Royals walks will be sitting on the bench.

MOMENTUM

Atlanta is 11-0, winners of nine in a row, and are fresh off a sweep of one of the best teams in baseball in the Washington Nationals. I’d say they have a little bit of momentum going for them, no?

Kansas City lost two of three to Toronto, but did salvage the final game of the series with a walk-off win. The Royals have to be looking for a way to steal one against a very hot Atlanta team.

PICK TO CLICK

Lorenzo Cain.

Cain looks to be the hitter closest to jacking some home runs for the Royals soon. He’s hitting everything hard and seems the most locked-in of any Royals hitter not named Alex Gordon or Billy Butler. Eventually some of those hard hit balls are going to find gaps or their way over the fence. The Royals could use both.

PREDICTION

This is a tough series for the Royals on the road and against a very hot team. Pulling out 1 of these two games is crucial. Having Guthrie on the mound tonight may be the most winnable game for the Royals. I’ll say they get tonight and lose on Wednesday.

Tags: Atlanta Braves Justin Upton Kansas City Royals Lorenzo Cain Mike Minor

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