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The defending champions come to Oakland: A's vs. Royals series preview

The Kansas City Royals visit the Oakland Athletics for three games at the Coliseum.

Alcides Escobar (left), Salvador Perez (center), and Eric Hosmer (right) receive their Gold Gloves.
Alcides Escobar (left), Salvador Perez (center), and Eric Hosmer (right) receive their Gold Gloves.
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The projection systems again frowned upon the way the Kansas City Royals chose to construct their baseball team, which basically was to bring back everyone that had from last year's World Series winners but add Ian Kennedy and swap out some of the relievers. The Royals, of course, have replied by starting the year 7-2. They arrive at the Coliseum after taking the last three games of four from the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Probable pitching matchups and broadcast schedule

All three games will be on CSN California. The matchups are updated as of Friday afternoon, with Bassitt and Gray being flipped around in the rotation:

Time (PT) TV Kansas City Oakland
Fri. 7:05 PM CSNCA RHP Edinson Volquez (1-0, 1.54) LHP Rich Hill (1-1, 3.12)
Sat. 1:05 PM CSNCA RHP Chris Young (0-2, 7.45) RHP Sonny Gray (1-1, 2.70)
Sun. 1:05 PM CSNCA RHP Kris Medlen (1-0, 3.60) RHP Chris Bassitt (0-0, 2.92)

Edinson Volquez finished 2015 with a 3.55 ERA with the Royals (116 ERA+) while striking out 155 and walking 72 in 200 1/3 innings. He's off to a good start in 2016, beating the New York Mets on the opening night of Sunday Night Baseball with six innings of shutout ball, and allowing just two runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins. Volquez didn't get deeper into the games because he was over 100 pitches, however.

Chris Young has so far not found whatever it was that allowed him to play so far under his FIP for the previous two seasons. He was charged with six runs in Kansas City's 8-2 loss to the Royals on April 11, striking out four and walking two while allowing a home run.

Kris Medlen made eight starts for the Royals last year, finishing with a 4.50 ERA in 44 innings. He pitched five innings and gave up two runs in Kansas City's 3-2 win against Houston on April 12.

Royals lineup additions and subtractions

Reymond Fuentes is the only position player who didn't play for the big league club last year, but he's been in the Royals organization since the 2014-15 offseason. Ben Zobrist is gone to the Cubs, but otherwise the gang stayed together. Even Alex Gordon dipped his toe into free agency and then decided to return to Kansas City.


Here the Royals moved some parts around after the departures of Greg Holland, Ryan Madson, and Franklin Morales. They've put Joakim Soria in to setup behind Wade Davis, and added Chien-Ming Wang and Dillon Gee as well. This unit has been successful so far, owning the 5th best ERA in the American League (2.70).

They're not invincible, however. Luke Hochevar does have two blown saves and setup man Joakim Soria has allowed four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings (7.71 ERA). In Soria's case, he allowed three runs on Opening and turned a four-run lead in the 8th inning into a one-run lead for Wade Davis to close. He followed that up on April 8 by allowing a run to score in the eighth inning of a tie game.

Royals bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from
Player Hand IP ERA 14-Apr 13-Apr 12-Apr 11-Apr 10-Apr 9-Apr
Wade Davis R 4.2 0.00 8 33 11
Joakim Soria R 4.2 7.71 5 17
Kelvin Herrera R 5.0 0.00 16 17
Luke Hochevar R 5.0 3.60 15 15 11
Danny Duffy L 5.1 3.38 19 19 19
Chien-Ming Wang R 3.1 2.70 40 22
Dillon Gee R 2.0 0.00 35
A's bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from
Player Hand IP ERA 14-Apr 13-Apr 12-Apr 11-Apr 10-Apr 9-Apr
Sean Doolittle L 4.2 5.79

15 11
Ryan Madson R 5.0 3.60 21 21
John Axford R 5.0 0.00 11 8
Liam Hendriks R 6.0 10.50 17 27
Marc Rzepczynski L 3.0 0.00 7 31
Ryan Dull R 6.0 0.00 15 9 18
Fernando Rodriguez R 6.2 1.35 22

Other notes

  • Although they have won their last three games, the Royals have played every day for the last seven days and arrive in the Bay Area after playing a night game in Houston for the final game of a seven-game road trip. The east to west trip is a little bit easier than the reverse, but it's still a lot of travel.
  • Friday is Jackie Robinson Day, with everyone wearing his #42 throughout baseball. The A's are also honoring its African American Franchise Five, and for $40 fans can purchase a Field Level ticket that entitles the holder to a Franchise Five T-shirt, field level ticket, and a charitable donation to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The A's are honoring Vida Blue, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, John "Blue Moon" Odom, and Dave Stewart.
  • On Saturday, the NBA has scheduled Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena for 12:30, meaning parking and transportation will be greatly impacted. The A's game is also expected to be heavily attended with the team giving away Stephen Vogt 1981 replica jerseys to 15,000 fans, though fortunately many of those people will be early arrivers. Parking will go up to $40 and may sell out before tip/first pitch.
  • Sunday, the A's are giving out Striped Socks to 15,000 fans. It's Sonny Gray's start, and while I've seen them selling the Sonny Siders t-shirts on the At The Ballpark app for $25 during Gray's starts, A's marketing has not scheduled any Sonny Siders games as of yet since the first try, on Opening Night, was thrown off by Sonny Gray's stomach flu.