Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Royals vs. Blue Jays? It’s what we want to see

Toronto left-hander Mark Buehrle has won 26 games in his career against Kansas City and could potentially be a problem for the Royals in the ALCS.
Toronto left-hander Mark Buehrle has won 26 games in his career against Kansas City and could potentially be a problem for the Royals in the ALCS. The Canadian Press

We’re going to fast forward through the ALDS and get right to the ALCS.

Although that’s a ridiculous thing to do, considering that if the ALDS started today the Kansas City Royals would take on the Texas Rangers with no guarantee whatsoever of moving on.

Still, today’s subject is whether Kansas City – or any other American League team for that matter – can beat the Toronto Blue Jays in a series.

I say it’s doubtful.

Toronto, which is losing today to Baltimore as I write this, has a one-game lead on Kansas City for the best record in the American League. That could be erased if the Blue Jays lose today and the Royals beat Chicago tonight. Then there would be a tie between the two for home-field advantage in the playoffs with Toronto headed to Tampa Bay for a season-ending three-game series and Kansas City going to Minnesota to wrap up the 2015 regular season.

Toronto has been playing incredible baseball since the All-Star break, going 47-20. The Blue Jays were buoyed by the acquisitions of David Price, Troy Tulowitzki and Ben Revere at the trade deadline.

Price, a left-hander who will break the bank as a free agent after the season, gives Toronto the ace of the pitching staff it was lacking. He’s a Game 1 monster for any team to face and the Royals don’t have that kind of pitcher. OK, maybe Yordano Ventura can be. But it has to be the right day/night for Ventura, who is still battling youthful inconsistency.

Price is long past those.

Right-hander Johnny Cueto was to have been the Game One Guy (GOG) for the Royals when they picked him up from Cincinnati at the deadline. But Cueto has not been bueno for a few weeks now. Some encouraging signs of late, yes, but hardly ace-type stuff.

Toronto has a fearsome lineup, one that could devour Kansas City’s starting pitching. Remember, the Royals went into the 2014 postseason with James Shields, Ventura, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas as postseason starters.

Only Ventura remains. And while you can argue that Cueto, Edinson Volquez and either Kris Medlen or Chris Young would be better, they haven’t been lately.

In Josh Donaldson (.300, 41 HR, 123 RBI), Jose Bautista (.252, 40, 113) and Edwin Encarnacion (.275, 37, 108) Toronto has a murderers row of offense. The Blue Jays have others capable of serious injury to pitchers, as well, including Russell Martin, a healthy Tulowitzki – he’s missed a bunch of games of late – and others.

You don’t mess with Toronto’s offense and I’m not sure the Royals – and again, any other team – have the pitching to match up.

One of the Blue Jays’ secret weapons in a series against Kansas City – and I’m not really sure how much of a secret it is – is veteran Toronto left-hander Mark Buehrle, who once pitched to Babe Ruth. I swear he’s that old.

Buerhle is actually only 36, but he seems older. And he must seem especially old to the Royals, who will probably schedule a ticker-tape parade when he retires.

Buehrle is 26-12 in his career against Kansas City with a 3.54 ERA. You might think Buehrle was cranking out all of those wins against the inferior Royals teams that inhabited Kauffman Stadium pre-2014. But Buehrle is 3-0 against KC the past two seasons with an ERA well under 3.00.

Price and Buehrle would present a challenge to the left-handed hitters in the Royals lineup. And they’re aplenty, including Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon and Kendrys Morales.

Kansas City won two of three games against the Blue Jays in Kansas City before the All-Star break, but Toronto won three of four at Rogers Centre just after the break in a highly-contentious series. All seven games were decided by four runs or less including three one-run games, three decided by three runs and another decided by four.

It would be a fun series to watch. The Royals are a much better offensive team than they were last season, but have still been outscored by Toronto (873-704) and out-homered (227 to 138).

Both teams have business to take care of before a potential meeting in the ALCS. But we can start hoping.