Finally. After a long and tortuous winter (not really, actually), Opening Day is here – although it’ll be like the fourth different Opening Day this season. The Royals will officially take the field for the first time this season tonight in Anaheim against the newly-rich Angels. These are the respective lineups:
1. Alex Gordon (L/R) LF
2. Lorenzo Cain (R/R) CF
3. Eric Hosmer (L/L) 1B
4. Billy Butler (R/R) DH
5. Jeff Francoeur (R/R) RF
6. Yuniesky Betancourt (R/R) 2B
7. Mike Moustakas (L/R) 3B
8. Brayan Pena (S/R) C
9. Alcides Escobar (R/R) SS
Pitcher – Bruce Chen LHP
1. Erick Aybar (S/R) SS
2. Howie Kendrick (R/R) 2B
3. Albert Pujols (R/R) 1B
4. Torii Hunter (R/R) RF
5. Vernon Wells (R/R) LF
6. Kendrys Morales (S/R) DH
7. Mark Trumbo (R/R) 3B
8. Chris Ianetta (R/R) C
9. Peter Bourjos (R/R) CF
Picher – Jered Weaver RHP
Tonight, “Our Time” officially begins.
Broxton Will Close
Even though I don’t understand why, Ned Yost has announced that Jonathan Broxton will be the team’s closer to start the season.
“It’s not going to be a tandem. Broxton is coming in if we have a save situation in the ninth inning. If we have a save situation in the eighth inning, Holland is coming in, and then we’re going to turn it over to Broxton.” – Ned Yost
I really don’t see the reason in naming a closer right now, particularly because nobody really stole the job this Spring. But, then again, I’m not the biggest advocate for the closer position. If the situation calls for a certain type of pitcher, then you bring in that pitcher. But that’s a different story for a different day.
Yuni Gets the Nod at Second
Yuniesky Betancourt will get the Opening Day start at 2B for the Royals tonight. You may wonder why Yost is choosing to start Yuni, a right-handed hitter, over Chris Getz, a left-handed hitter, against right-hander Jered Weaver.
Well, the reason is simple.
Aside from Alex Gordon, Yuni has the highest career AVG against Jered Weaver at .286 (12 for 42).
When it comes to who plays when at second to begin the season, it looks like Ned is going to play more toward the numbers of a particular matchup rather than just simply playing the lefty/righty card.
Red Right Hands
The Angels starting lineup leans a little heavy on the right side. And by a little heavy, I mean they have ansolutely zero left-handed hitters in their lineup (they have two switch-hitters in Aybar and Morales).
Which means that Royals left-hander Bruce Chen is going to have his hands full tonight.
Chen is known as a “crafty lefty”, meaning that he has to rely more on movement, location, and deception rather than pure stuff – which Bruce does very well. He utilizes a few different arm slots in order to add as much deception to the pitch as he possibly can.
He doesn’t strike out a lot of hitters (career 6.8 K/9), so Bruce has to pitch more to contact. Deception (and Jamie Moyer-like speed) allows him to get hitters out on their front foot and either roll their wrists over to induce a groundball or cause them to be under the ball and pop it up.
Bruce has a tough task tonight, especially now that the Halos have Pujols in the 3-spot and Kendrys Morales has made his way back from two years of injuries. I wouldn’t expect to see many lefties throwing tonight for the Royals.