Hard to believe, but this is true; manager Buck Showalter makes his LCS debut in this series.  Showalter brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership to his squad, and they present his ideas on the field correctly as evidenced by winning the division going away and a sweep of Detroit in the ALDS. 
  1. Chris Tillman
  2. Wei-Yin Chen
  3. Bud Norris
  4. Miguel Gonzalez
Tillman wasn’t dominant in his game one start versus the Tigers giving the O’s 5 innings and 105 pitches.  He will look to put 6 innings up as a starting point and let a rested bullpen take over in game one of this series.  Should he or any other starter get hit early, Kevin Gausman came in for Chen in game 2 of the ALDS and picked up the slack nicely, and will look to do so again.  Tillman hurled a complete game shutout of the Royals in Kansas City in his only start against them this year.  Chen also defeated the Royals once this year but his pitching abilities are very hittable as both righties and lefties hit nearly .270 against him.  He thus must be pin point with his accuracy to stay out of big innings.  Norris pitched well in his start to clinch the series against Detroit fanning 6 and allowing only four base runners.  He took a loss against the Royals this season in which he pitched 7.1 innings and gave up only one run.  Miguel Gonzalez has similar pitching capabilities as Chen, as to say they are both hittable.  Depending on the series standing he could be skipped in the rotation all together. 
The bullpen, as anchored by closer Zach Britton and righty set up men Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter and lefty Andrew Miller are every bit as steady and dominating as the Royals.  Add Gausman to the mix as a long relief guy and there are no holes here (read no comebacks). 
The lineup will stay primarily the same with Ryan Flaherty manning 3B and Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph sharing the catching duties.  As stated before, this lineup has more power and lives more by the long ball than K.C.; although during the Division series they were able to score in bunches with hits.  2B Jonathan Schoop will carry a .300 post season average into this series after barely hitting over .200 during the regular season.  With J.J Hardy, Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce also hitting .300 or above during the playoffs the lineup is proving they can win without being dependent on the long ball.  
Defense/Pinch hitting:
Delmon Young will again be the big bat off the bench, and David Lough will be the late inning pinch runner.  The defense is solid but the key to the series will be Baltimore’s catchers keeping the running Royals in check on the base path; Caleb Joseph has thrown out 23 of 57 (40%) this season. 


Is this their year or what?! Come from behind wins in the Wild Card game and game 1 of the ALDS has the fans thinking like Boston’s fans last year.  Manager Ned Yost has been panned by just about everyone for his poor in game decisions thus far, but can you really argue with the results?
  1. James Shields
  2. Yordano Ventura
  3. Jason Vargas
The good news aside from their sweep of the Angels is that they have time to get their rotation in order so Shields can pitch games 1, 4 & 7 should it go that far.  Ventura will benefit the most as he pitched 7 innings after relieving Shields in the Wild Card game.  A regular pitching week (rest) probably no longer applies as the teams battle for the AL spot in the World Series.  The Royals bullpen has shown they are more than capable of getting the outs needed to keep their team in games.  The sore spot is Kelvin Herrera’s health.  If he can regain his form the game becomes a 6 inning affair for the Royals starters.  Brandon Finnegan nailed down the lefty spot out of the pen even at 21 years of age.  He and Danny Duffy will be weapons as their confidence and stuff are beaming at this point.  Wade Davis and Greg Holland will shut the door should the Royals take a lead into the 7th as Davis can be counted on for more than 3 outs. 
The Royals used Lorenzo Cain as their #3 hitter, bucking the thought that this was a big RBI spot as he used his speed to routinely disrupt the Angels' pitchers.  This post season seems to be Eric Hosmer’s coming out party as the star that the Royals thought he was going to be two years ago; he’s 25 and hitting .400 this post season.  Add Alex Gordon and Nori Aoki to the mix hitting .300 or better and the Royals got timely hitting from Mike Moustakas to lengthen their lineup.  The other hitters, notably Omar Infante, who went hitless in the series need to step it up.  Billy Butler also went hitless but drew walks to bump up his OBP to .250. 
Defense/Pinch hitting:
Jarrod Dyson will be the late inning pinch runner and push Cain to RF to substitute for Aoki to cover more real estate in the outfield.  Terrance Gore will run should Billy Butler get on base in the late innings. 
These two teams played their two series against each other early in the season.  I don’t put much stock in those numbers as neither team was where it ended the season then.  This series has upset alert written all over it in favor of Kansas City, but the managing edge is so markedly in favor of Baltimore that they will simply play the correct style of game and wait for Ned Yost to make another mistake. 
Baltimore wins series in 6.