The Kansas City Royals experienced their first travel day of 2014 today as they packed their bags in Surprise and headed north for a duo of preseason games with the Milwaukee Brewers. While the Royals set up shop in Wisconsin, let’s take a look at how their regular season will begin.
KC faces off against the Detroit Tigers in a three-game series that starts on Monday. After getting James Shields vs. Justin Verlander in Game 1, the Royals will go with Jason Vargas and the emerging Yordano Ventura in the following games. This series carries a lot of weight and will serve as a barometer for what’s to come through 2014. The inexperienced Ventura will be thrown into the pool early to see if he can swim in MLB.
The vast majority believe Detroit to be the front-runners for winning the AL Central this year, and you won’t hear me disagree. An early series win over what could be the AL’s best team would be a tremendous confidence booster for a young and talented Royals squad that’s ready to usurp the Tigers as division champs. Losing the series in ugly fashion could dilute that confidence and, at worst, send the Royals into one of their signature early-season tailspins.
Just remember that KC was never able to recover from a disastrous 8-20 May in time to make the playoffs last season. This year’s team should have both the talent and confidence to avoid such lofty losing streaks, but it doesn’t take much to rattle your morale in the major leagues.
It sounds like Vargas is scheduled to face off against Max Scherzer for the second game, and Game 3 gives us Ventura vs. Anibal Sanchez. A betting man would put his money on this being a low-scoring series with a lot of strikeouts, which can easily translate into an offensive slump in April. It’s clearly a tough way to start the season, but if KC can keep Detroit hitters quiet, they can instead induce the aforementioned confidence drain in their dreaded divisional rival.