The Jays predictably lost the two tough games against the Rays to lose their series. The Royals have lost seven straight, and six at home, to sit at 3-9. So, hey Jays fans, it could be worse.
It's the weekend, so let's get down to business with a quick advance scout.
It's a four game set, the Jays only visit to KC for the year.
Friday: Kyle Drabek v. Luke Hochevar
Last year's ERA of 4.68 was the best line of Luke Hochevar's four full big league seasons, which has to be a disappointment for 2006's #1 overall pick. He was better in the second half of 2011, but has not fared well in his first two starts of 2012, albeit with some bad luck. He got shellacked by Cleveland in his last start, exiting after a Carlos Santana liner struck his ankle and ended up being the final out of the fourth; of course by this point he had given up 7 runs. Kyle Drabek was actually taken 17 spots after Hochevar in the 2006 draft, and at this point, without hometown bias, I think it's clear who possesses more potential upside. Hochevar blazes a fastball in there at 93 MPH, which he augments with a cutter, slider, curve and change, which he throws in roughly that order according to PITCHf/x. The slider is easily his best pitch, and is probably one of the best sliders in the game. Rajai Davis is 3/11, Joey Bats 2/9 with a homer, Adam Lind 3/11.
Saturday: Drew Hutchison v. Luis Mendoza
Let's face it, all any Jays fans care about in this one is Hutchison, who is scheduled to make his big league debut. Hutchison signed in the 15th round of the 2009 draft for $400,000, about 3rd round money. As you must know at this point, he's basically been lights out, and possesses an about average velocity fastball that he spots extremely well. He's only 21, and it's unclear what the Jays plans for him are beyond this start - he doesn't profile as an ace, but could be an above average major league pitcher. Our own Marc Hulet has this take at Fangraphs:
"The right-hander has above-average control for his age and he mixes his pitches well. Hutchison can reach 93-94 mph with his four-seam fastball but he tends to work with a two-seamer in the 89-91 mph range with good movement. His second best pitch is a changeup and itís a potential strikeout pitch. The third weapon is a slider, which remains inconsistent."
His opposite number is Luis Mendoza, who is 29 and has a FIP of 5.5 in 100 or so major league innings, barely striking out more than he walks. Look at the chart. He's given up 10 runs (6 earned) in 9.2 innings with a 3/8 K/BB ratio. He throws a fastball/curve/change, with the fastball dialing up to 92.
Sunday: Ricky Romero v. Danny Duffy
I actually like Danny Duffy a bit - he's a hard throwing 23 year-old lefty that needs to come to grips with commanding his pitches better. He had a pretty rough go of it last year, and while he doesn't project as ace material, he has enough raw talent to get a bunch of shots. An A's blog did a much better job profiling him than I am prepared to do at this juncture/ever.
Monday: Brandon Morrow v. Bruce Chen
Morrow and Chen are kind of opposites - hard/soft stuff, young(ish)/old(ish), righty/lefty - but wouldn't you know it, Chen has been the more successful of the two over the last couple of years, basically putting up 150 innings of solid, slightly better than league average stuff in each season. Chen doesn't overpower - his fastball reaches 86 on a good day, but he's had success with his 81 MPH slider, which he throws in addition to a curve and change. Somehow no current Jays has more than 5 ABs against him.
Expect to see something along these lines:
Alex Gordon LF
Chris Getz/Yuniesky Betancourt 2B
Eric Hosmer 1B
Billy Butler DH
Mike Moustakas 3B
Brayan Pena/Humberto Quinero C
Mitch Maier CF
Alcides Escobar SS
Maier handles CF while Lorenzo Cain is on the DL... Yes, you saw that correct, Alcides Escobar and Yuniesky Betancourt, who COMBINED for a .561 OBP last year, sometimes both play in the Royals lineup. Jeff Francouer but up a .329 OBP last year, his best mark in four years, or the joke would be even better. The highly rated Mike Moustakas hasn't really produced in the bigs yet - he hit .263/.309/.367 last year in 365 PA, while Pena and Quinero both have career OBPs below .300, so basically the Royals regularly run out a major league lineup that features maybe five players whose true-talent OBP (if such a thing really exists) is around or below .300. Good luck with that guys.
Infirmary: Lorenzo Cain CF (groin), 15-day DL, Felipe Paulino SP (forearm), 15-day DL, Joakim Soria CL (UCL), out for season. Everyone but the Mexicutioner is expected back relatively soon.
Song to Advance Scout By: In celebration of getting to face the Royals, Bounce by MSTKRFT (featuring N.O.R.E and ISIS). The video is suggestive/schlocky but is also a music video. And they are Canadian!
Chart: Get your 2012 numbers here! Sample size caveats apply/blow the bloody doors off. Hutch's numbers are from AA.