The KC Royals return home to Kauffman Stadium, hoping to win their first home game of the 2012 season. They will have a tough test as they welcome the NY Yankees to town. The Yankees rotation has been bad, but the bullpen’s been good and they still have an explosive offense (which didn’t show up against Baltimore). The Yankees have a short bench with the injuries to Nick Swisher and now Eric Chavez (hopefully the Royals can hit balls at 30-error Nunez). The Yankees dropped to 13-11 and into fourth place in the American League East.
The first game of the four-game series (tonight) will air live on MLB Network at 8pm ET.
Thursday: David Phelps (0-0, 3.57 ERA) @ Danny Duffy (1-2, 3.63 ERA)
Phelps will be making his first Major League start. He has been solid out of the Yankees bullpen and is taking the place of the awful Freddy Garcia (who moved to the bullpen). He has walked two compared to 14 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. Expect a ton of Phelps supporters to make the drive from St. Louis (where he is from). I have a soft spot for Phelps, who I watched develop over the last few years in the Yankees farm system (I’m an East Coast girl).
Duffy missed his last start due to tightness in his elbow and was pushed back again when the Royals were rained out twice in three days. Hopefully the tightness was only minor like reported because losing him would be a big blow.
Friday: CC Sabathia (3-0, 4.58 ERA) @ Bruce Chen (0-3, 4.23 ERA)
Sabathia has won three in a row and pitched into the 8th inning in those three starts after struggling in his first two starts. Sabathia did not face the Royals in 2011.
Chen was roughed up in his last start, but had been good prior. He faced the Yankees once in 2011 (August 17th) and picked up a win (6IP, 7H, 3R, 3BB, 3K).
Saturday: Hiroki Kuroda (2-3, 3.69 ERA) @ TBA
Kuroda has been solid in his first season in New York. Normally he follows up a good outing with a bad. He’s had two straight good starts, so he is due for a subpar one.
Felipe Paulino is expected to slide into the rotation, as he is set to return from the DL and make his 2012 debut. He will be taking Luis Mendoza‘s spot, with Mendoza moving to the bullpen. Manager Ned Yost favors keeping two long-men with the Royals‘ rotation struggles (fewest innings of any rotation), so Nate Adcock appears safe.
Sunday: Phil Hughes (1-4, 7.48 ERA) @ Luke Hochevar (2-2, 7.36 ERA)
Hughes may be pitching for his rotation spot, with veteran Andy Pettitte looming. He was better in his last start (5.2IP, 4H, 4R, BB, 6K), but has given up the longball (seven homeruns in 21.2 innings). If he struggles, expect to see rookie DJ Mitchell (who made his big league debut Tuesday night) or Garcia.
Hochevar tends to give up A LOT of runs in the first inning (12 runs in his two losses). He was terrible in Detroit this week, so hopefully he can regroup. He did not face the Yankees in 2011.
*Will the Royals FINALLY win a home game? Who will earn the “W”?
**For more on the Yankees, check out Second Place is Not an Option.