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We owe you one, Kansas City: Phillies vs. Royals series preview

Time to give Kansas City some payback!

New York Mets v Kansas City Royals
Zack Greinke chose to endure his final seasons in Kansas City
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The last time there was a major sporting event between teams from Philadelphia and Kansas City, it didn’t go so well for the Philly team. There were many causes for the loss - I assign most of the blame to the thankfully since departed defensive coordinator - but in the end, the bad guys won.

With the Kansas City Royals headed to Philadelphia this weekend, it’s up to the Phillies to get some revenge on behalf of the city. The good news is that unlike their football counterparts, the Royals are not a championship caliber team. In fact, they’re one of the absolute worst teams in baseball, so the Phillies need to clobber them and restore our civic pride!

Kansas City Royals

Record: 35-75, Fifth place in American League Central (21 games back)

The manager

This is Matt Quatraro’s first season as a major league manager, and much as everyone predicted before the season, it’s not going very well.

I think Royals fans accept that their team is a lost cause, but if there’s one thing fans want to see out of a bad team’s manager is a little bit of fire, which Quatraro isn’t providing.

Quatraro also had to miss games due to COVID-19 earlier in the season. I didn’t think that was a thing anymore. Obviously, the virus is still out there, but I assumed most sports teams had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it came to it.

The last time they met

These teams don’t get together that often, and the last matchup between them came in May 2019 when the Phillies went to Kansas City and won two of three. The series featured a complete game shutout by Zach Eflin and a strong, seven-inning start by Cole Irvin(!).

What’s the deal with the Royals?

The Royals won the World Series in 2015 and soon after embarked on a rebuilding effort that saw them lose over 100 games in 2018 and 2019. The point of bottoming out in a rebuild is supposed to be that it helps you get better a few years later. But five years later, the Royals are careening toward another 100+ loss season. They feature a wonderful combination of a really bad offense (14th in the AL in runs scored) and a really bad pitching staff (14th in the AL in team ERA).

About that pitching staff

As any Phillies fan reading this knows, the Phillies’ offense has been a disappointment this season. They don’t hit a lot of home runs, they are bad with runners in scoring position, and they seem determined to hit into as many double plays as possible. But a series against this Royals’ pitching staff could help cure what ails them.

Here are the pitchers the Phillies will face:

Jordan Lyles - I have no idea how a guy with a career 5.18 ERA is in his 13th major league season. If he was left-handed, I’d understand, because lefties get unlimited chances, but apparently teams are really enamored of a guy who has never finished a season with an ERA below 4. He pitches a lot of innings, and “inning eaters” do have some value, but at some point you’d like some of those innings he pitches to not suck.

Alec Marsh - Marsh has been worse than Lyles this season, but he’s a rookie, so at least you can say there’s some upside there. Marsh gives up a lot of home runs, so maybe the Phillies should try hitting some of those when they face him.

Zack Greinke - What the hell is Zack Greinke doing here? The former Cy Young winner apparently decided to spend the final days of his career back where it started. However, it seems unlikely that he’ll be winning another Cy Young Award this year with an ERA over 5.

All that being said, I acknowledge there’s a decent chance that the Phillies continue to struggle against the Royals’ pitching staff, and we’ll all feel much worse about the team than we did before.

As for the Phillies’ rotation

After the addition of Michael Lorenzen - and early returns on that trade are good! - the Phillies plan to use a six-man rotation temporarily. But barring injury, at some point, someone is going to be bumped from the rotation, and based on experience, Cristopher Sanchez seems like the most likely candidate.

But should he be? Sanchez has been really good since joining the rotation, and while he doesn’t have the same highs as Aaron Nola, he’s certainly been more consistent from start to start.

Rebuilds can be tricky

The Royals’ 2015 World Series was fueled by a massive rebuild, so after that championship team began to show signs of rust, the Royals figured they’d try it again. The only problem is, it’s been a massive failure with most of their prospects not living up to their hype.

The Phillies had a similar problem with their rebuilding efforts but were able to overcome it by spending a crap load of money to bring in established players from outside the organization. The Royals are too cheap more financially limited and have not seemed inclined to copy this strategy.

How to handle Trea

After Trea Turner’s nightmare season somehow got even worse on Wednesday night, there has been some debate as to how the home crowd should handle him this weekend. Should everyone boo him since his performance certainly merits displeasure? Or should Phillies fans show that we’re not the monsters we’re portray as, and show him overwhelming support?

Personally, I’d cheer him when introduced and before his first at bat, but if he continues to suck after that, it starts to feel a little condescending. If he strikes out in a big spot or makes an error, I think boos are acceptable.


Last series’ answer: The four Pirates to combine for a shutout against the Phillies in 2022 were Roansy Contreras, Manny Banuelos, Duane Underwood Jr, and Wil Crowe. Apologist42 got in first, naming Contreras.

This series’ question: The last time the Royals beat the Phillies in a game, one of their players hit a home run. That same player hit a home run against the Phillies in the past two weeks. Who is he?

Closing thought

The Phillies did what they needed to do against the Marlins, winning three out of four against a fellow Wild Card contender. Now that they’re facing another also-ran, the Phillies need to avoid the hiccups they encountered in the Pirates series.

Let’s see the offense come out and hit the way they should. I’m tired of the Phillies playing all these close games. I want to see their lineup demolish the Royals’ weak pitching staff this weekend. Not only would that make me feel encouraged about the offense’s potential down the stretch, but it would also provide a (admittedly miniscule) measure of revenge against Kansas City.

How will the Phillies hit Miami’s Bullpen?

Rise and Phight: 10/2/2023

Bring on Tuesday: Phillies 9, Mets 1