Kansas City Royals at Atlanta Braves Series Preview

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

After an off day, the Braves welcome Kansas City to town for a quick two game series.

The Royals come in with a 7-5 record after dropping two of three games to the Blue Jays at home over the weekend.

Offensively, Kansas City ranks third in the American League in batting average (.269), seventh in on-base average (.324), 12th in slugging percentage (.385), tied for ninth in wOBA (.312), and tied for eighth in wRC+ (95).

The Royals are also seventh in offensive fWAR (1.8), second to last in walk rate (6.8%), 14th in strikeout rate (15.1%), and next to last in ISO (.116).

Individually, they are being led by Alex Gordon and Billy Butler at the plate. Gordon isn't walking much (3.8% walk rate), but is hitting at a .373/.396/.510 rate with a 151 wRC+ and .393 wOBA. Butler, on the other hand, is walking a ton as shown by his 21.7% walk rate. Overall, "Country Breakfast" is hitting .257/.435/.457 with a .386 wOBA and 147 wRC+. He also leads the team in home runs with two.

Next up is second baseman Chris Getz, who has yet to walk this season but has hit for some pop with a .306/.306/.472 line. His middle infield partner, shortstop Alcides Escobar, leads Kansas City with three steals, and is hitting .250/.288/.396 with a .297 wOBA and 85 wRC+.

Second year first baseman Eric Hosmer is hitting well, but hasn't tapped into his power so far in 2013. He's walked 14.3% of the time, and has a triple slash of .276/.400/.310. The Royals are struggling in the power department, and badly need Hosmer to get going.

Speaking of struggles, no player needs to get going more than third baseman Mike Moustakas, who enters the series with a 26 wRC+ and a .158/.238/.211. He's walking a good bit, and likely is experiencing some bad BABIP luck, but he's also hitting fly balls at an absurd 66% rate. Combine that with a line drive rate of just 12%, and you've got a recipe for a lack of success at the plate.

Wrapping up the infield, catcher Salvador Perez is hitting for average but that's it with his .280/.294/.360 triple slash and 78 wRC+.

Center fielder Lorenzo Cain is hitting .282/.341/.333 with a .303 wOBA and 89 wRC+, while our old "friend" Jeff Francoeur is hitting .238/.271/.381 and has been worth -0.1 fWAR.

Pitching matchups:

Tuesday April 16th, 7:10 PM ET

Jeremy Guthrie

#11 / Pitcher / Kansas City Royals





Apr 08, 1979

Kris Medlen

#54 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves





Oct 07, 1985

Through two starts for the Royals, Guthrie has pitched pretty well outside of some struggles with the long ball. In 12.2 innings, he's sporting a 3.55 ERA, 5.08 FIP, and a 3.43 xFIP. Guthrie's strikeout percentage is way up from career average of just over 14%, as it currently sits at 21.2%. He's also not walking many people early in 2013, as he has a walk rate of just 3.9% so far. Guthrie's ground ball percentage is also up a bit from his career 40.7% rate to almost 45% this season.

He does have an absurdly high strand rate of over 91% that will come down sooner than later. In terms of stuff, Guthrie throws a four-seam, sinker, slider, curveball, slow curve, and a changeup. He works off his sinker, throwing it 35% of the time to left-handed hitters and 33% of the time against right-handed hitters. It's a hard pitch, at over 92 miles per hour, and he throws it about half the time when he's behind in the count to a batter.

Guthrie throws his four-seam about a third of the time first pitch to LHH's, but will use it in any count regardless of handedness. His slider is mainly reserved for right-handed hitters, as he throws it 25% of the time against them and in any count. The curve is basically the opposite, as he uses is mostly against left-handed hitters, mainly first pitch or when it's an even count.

Guthrie rarely uses his slow curve, but it's something to watch out for against left-handed hitters when he has two strikes. Against LHH's, he'll use his change in basically any count, but highest when he gets ahead. When a RHH is at the plate, he's much more cautious with the pitch, using it mainly when he's ahead in the count at a 26% rate.

Wednesday, April 17th, 12:10 PM ET

Wade Davis

#22 / Pitcher / Kansas City Royals





Sep 07, 1985

Mike Minor

#36 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves





Dec 26, 1987

Davis has made two starts as well for Kansas City, but has thrown just nine innings combined. He enters with a 4.00 ERA, 5.47 FIP, and 4.28 xFIP. Always a fly ball pitcher, Davis has taken it to the extreme early in 2013, as he has a ground ball rate of just 28.6% so far. Davis had a strikeout rate of just over 19% to go with a walk rate of 7.1%.

Davis has five pitches, but really only uses four of them primarily. He throws a four-seam, sinker, cutter, curveball, and will mix in a occasional changeup. He doesn't throw particularly hard, with his four-seam and sinker sitting just above 90 miles per hour on average. His cutter averages 88 miles per hour, with his curveball being the slowest at around 81 miles per hour on average. When he does throw his change, it comes in on average at around 85 miles per hour.

Davis works off his fastball, throwing it 51% of the time so far this season. He'll use it to either handed batter in any count. Davis' sinker is mainly seen against right-handed hitters, and in any count except when he has two strikes on the batter. If he throws it to a lefty, look for it early in the count.

His cutter is thrown evenly to either handed hitter, and is used most late in counts when he's ahead or has two strikes. Davis uses his curve more against LHH's, especially early in counts, but he'll throw it in any count when he does use it against right-handed hitters.

When he gets behind a right-handed hitter is the main situation that he'll use his changeup. Against left-handed hitters, he's most likely to use it when he's ahead but doesn't have two strikes.

***All pitch data from brooksbaseball.net.***

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