Cleveland Indians series preview: Kansas City Royals, July 12-14

Jamie Squire

The Indians host Kansas City in the final series before the All-Star break.

The Indians finish up the first half (or first 58.6% of the season, if you want the actual math) and conclude a 10-game homestand with three games again the Royals. Friday and Saturday are 7:05 starts, while Sunday's series finale begins at 1:05. There will be post-game fireworks after each of the first two games, and if you're planning on going Saturday, get there early, because the first 10,000 fans get a replica of the team's navy blue 1902 road jerseys.

Team in a Box

Kansas City Royals

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2013 Record

43-46

Runs/Game

4.02

11th

Runs/Game

4.03

3rd

AL Central

3rd

OBP

.312

11th

H/9

8.7

7th

Last 10

5-5

SLG

.378

13th

BB/9

3.1

8th

Last 30

16-14

Steals

66

3rd

SO/9

7.5

9th

*All stats are updated through play on Thursday, July 11th.

The Royals have been about as 'middle of the pack' as can be of late. They're 9-9 over their last 18 games, most recently splitting a 4-game set in the Bronx, and they haven't won or lost more than two in a row during that time. The Kansas City offense is pretty light-hitting, but their pitching is solid, with fewer runs allowed than might be expected based on peripherals, perhaps due to the team's strong defense, arguably the best in the league.

Projected Lineup

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

LF

Alex Gordon

L

380

287

358

426

114

SS

Alcides Escobar

R

369

246

279

330

67

1B

Eric Hosmer

L

361

287

336

432

109

DH

Billy Butler

R

362

266

370

399

111

C

Salvador Perez

R

286

291

315

407

96

3B

Mike Moustakas

L

287

213

272

331

64

RF

Lorenzo Cain

R

311

257

315

375

88

2B

Johnny Giavotella

R

34

219

265

281

50

CF

Jarrod Dyson

L

81

257

313

473

111

On offense, they haven't been drawing very many walks this season, but they also don't strike out much. They've also hit far fewer home runs than any other AL team (just 60, compared to 82 for the Twins, who have the next lowest AL total. No Royal has hit more than 9 HR this season). Kansas City seems to hate the three true outcomes, they prefer to just put the ball in play and see what happens.

Eric Hosmer is on maybe the best stretch of his MLB career. Over the last 30 days, he's hit 8 HR (after hitting just 1 during the season's first 2+ months) and has a line of .319/.352/.611. Has he finally figured things out and become the player he was expected to?

Projected Starters

Date

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

July 12

Bruce Chen (Kluber)

L

2.41

33.2

174

9.6

3.5

6.4

July 13

Jeremy Guthrie (Kazmir)

R

4.12

113.2

101

9.2

3.2

4.4

July 14

James Shields (Jimenez)

R

3.12

129.2

133

8.2

2.6

7.8

Kansas City's starters rank in the middle of the pack for strikeouts, walks, home runs, and runs allowed.

This will be Chen's first start of the season, after working successfully out of the bullpen thus far. Guthrie, a former 1st round pick for the Indians, has been league average in terms of earned runs allowed, while averaging 6.31 innings per start. That's solid (if not spectacular) production for a #3 or 4 starter. Shields has pitched well since coming over in a big off-season trade, though he has just 4 wins to show for it. Hooray for wins!

Key Relievers

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Greg Holland

R

1.80

35.0

233

5.4

2.8

15.4

Aaron Crow

R

3.25

27.2

129

8.8

3.6

7.8

Tim Collins

L

3.55

33.0

118

7.1

5.2

8.5

Other bullpen arms include Luke Hochevar, Louis Coleman, Juan Gutierrez, Donnie Joseph, and Luis Mendoza. Holland has been one of the best closers in baseball this season. Like the starters, Kansas City's bullpen is near the middle in terms of strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Unlike the starters though, the relief corp has managed to post the best ERA in the league (2.87), due in part to a fairly low BABIP. On the whole, I'd say they're a solid group, but not as good as that ERA might have you believe.

On the Shelf

  • RP Felipe Paulino (July 2012 Tommy John surgery) - 60-day DL, on AA rehab
  • SP Wade Davis (paternity leave)

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2013

5

5

.500

50

44

.558

2012

8

10

.444

114

103

.546

Last 5*

50

40

.556

501

419

.581

Last 10*

101

82

.552

983

830

.577

All-Time

308

293

.512

2825

2609

.536

*Does not include 2013 stats

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