Cubs Preview: Royals come to town for one-night stand
By Jake Misener
After salvaging the series finale against Pittsburgh, the Chicago Cubs will battle the reigning AL pennant-winning Kansas City Royals at Wrigley Field Monday.
After Jake Arrieta pitched (and hit) the Cubs to a 4-0 win, the team will grace the Friendly Confines one final time during the 2015 regular season, taking on hard-throwing right-hander Yordano Ventura and the AL Central champion Kansas City Royals.
Kansas City (90-65) and Chicago (90-65) enter the one-game matchup with identical records but very different postseason futures ahead of them. The Royals will head straight to the ALDS, while the Cubs will take on either the Pirates or St. Louis Cardinals in a one-game wild card showdown before battling the other in the first-round.
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So, to get better acquainted with Ned Yost’s club, we sat down with FanSided MLB Director and Kings of Kauffman Co-Editor Dave Hill to talk Royals baseball.
Despite being one of the best teams in the game, why is it that people (at least nationally) have paid so little attention to the Royals this season?
I think that the reason why the Royals don’t get a lot of attention is that they are not loaded with big names and that their style of baseball isn’t ‘interesting’ to the powers that be. They don’t hit home runs, they hit doubles. They rely upon a power bullepn and stellar defense. Alex Gordon may be their biggest star, but he isn’t a superstar by conventional means. Besides, it’s the Royals – they aren’t supposed to be any good. Just ask ESPN.
Both teams enter with a 90-65 mark; which has a better shot at making a deep postseason run?
I feel the Royals do, just because they aren’t going through the Wild Card Game and then the Cardinals. Cubs have a tough road.
Yordano Ventura has struggled at-times this season, even being sent down briefly to Triple-A (before returning the next day due to another pitcher’s injury) – has he turned things around heading into the postseason?
It seems as though the acquisition of Johnny Cueto turned Ventura’s season around. Early in his career, Cueto was regarded the same way that Ventura is now – a hot-headed, talented pitcher who will let his emotions get the better of him. I think Cueto helped Ventura channel that fire, and he’s looked a lot better since.
This winter, Alex Gordon hits the open market. Does he return to Kansas City or is he as good as gone?
This is the likely $90 million question. I think there’s a chance he can stay in KC, if his market doesn’t go beyond five or six years at around $90 million. If it goes past there, I don’t think the Royals can keep him. To me, I’d put it at 60-40 he leaves.
What makes the Cubs beatable in your opinion? What makes them dangerous?
The road they have to go on makes them beatable. The Pirates and Cardinals are a tough matchup, and that’s before getting to the NLDS. What makes them dangerous is that duo atop their rotation. Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta are quite the 1-2 tandem, and may be among the top two or three in the game. That alone can turn the tide of a series.