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Royals 'pretty set' on Ventura starting Game 2

KANSAS CITY -- It will likely be Yordano Ventura taking the mound for the Royals on Saturday at Camden Yards in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series (3 p.m. CT on TBS).

Royals manager Ned Yost announced on Tuesday that he was "pretty set" on his rookie starter following ALCS Game 1 starter James Shields. This hardly comes as a surprise given the way Ventura pitched down the stretch.

Ventura ended the regular season with a 2.48 ERA in his last 11 starts. He then shook off a hiccup coming out of the bullpen in the AL Wild Card Game to dominate the Angels in a 4-1 win at Angel Stadium on Friday that sent the AL Division Series back to Kansas City with the Royals up, 2-0.

Ventura faced the Orioles twice in the first two months of the season, allowing just two runs in 14 1/3 innings and striking out 17.

"We like the fact that he's got overpowering stuff," Yost said. "He pitched two extremely good games against Baltimore this year, and he's throwing the ball well right now."

Yost also liked the fact that Ventura keeps the ball in the yard. The right-hander surrendered only 14 home runs in his 183 regular-season innings. His 0.69 home runs per nine innings ranked first among Royals starters, and 26th among 88 qualified MLB starters.

This factored into Yost starting Ventura in the hitter-friendly confines of Camden Yards against an O's team that led MLB with 211 regular-season home runs.

"That plays into it. The home run hitters' park plays to both teams' advantage -- they hit a lot of home runs, but they play in that park, too. Our home run totals would be drastically higher if we played in that park," Yost said.

Yost could turn to Danny Duffy, Jason Vargas or Jeremy Guthrie -- or perhaps even Shields on short rest -- for Games 3 and 4 in Kansas City. When asked whether Yost would prefer Guthrie or Duffy to start an ALCS game, the fifth-year Royals manager did not reveal his hand.

"I'm leaning. Both of them are viable options. There's some thought that having Duffy in the 'pen would benefit us," said Yost. "We think that both Duffy and Vargy can help us in any role that we put them in."

Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for
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