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Series preview: Indians at Royals (July 24-July 27)

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The fourth straight AL Central series, and third on the road, concludes with four games in Kansas City.

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All Stars Perez, Holland and Gordon
All Stars Perez, Holland and Gordon
Ed Zurga

The Indians travel to Kansas City to take on the Royals, looking to bury them further into the AL Central standings. This is the Tribe's final stop on a three city AL Central tour.

  • Thursday's game is at 8:10 PM (Kluber vs. Duffy)
  • Friday's game is at 8:10 PM (Tomlin vs. Ventura)
  • Saturday's game is at 7:10 PM (McAllister vs. Guthrie) [FoxSports1 game]
  • Sunday's game is at 2:10 PM (Salazar vs. Chen)

After a day off on Monday, the Mariners and Rangers will visit Progressive Field for three games each. Then the Indians and Reds will do the home and home interleague series.

Division Watch: Tigers at Angels, White Sox at Twins.

Team in a Box

Kansas City Royals

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2014 Record

50-50

Runs/Game

4.0

12th

Runs/Game

4.0

3rd

AL Central

3rd

OBP

316

9th

H/9

8.8

5th

Last 10

3-7

SLG

376

13th

BB/9

2.9

6th

Last 30

12-18

Steals

83

1st

SO/9

7.2

13th

Back in June, the Royals were the hottest team in baseball, reeling off ten straight to take a one and half game lead on the Tigers in the Central. But man have they cooled off, like a popsicle. They have lost eighteen of thirty and now sit half a game behind the Indians in third place. In that recent downturn, the Indians took two of three at Progressive Field.

Their biggest problem continues to be at the dish. They do have the third best team batting average, but are a woeful ninth in on base percentage because they are thirteenth in taking walks. Their slugging is only thirteenth because they are dead last in home runs. The rotation has been decent, but Jason Vargas recently landed on the DL. The bullpen is one of the best in baseball, if not the best. So with a bad lineup, okay starting pitching and a great bullpen, what did Dayton Moore recently acquire? Yep, another bullpen arm, Jason Frasor. Go figure.

Projected Roster

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OPS

C

Salvador Perez

R

368

283

754

1B

Eric Hosmer

L

435

271

701

2B

Omar Infante

R

339

271

687

3B

Mike Moustakas

L

284

199

656

SS

Alcides Escobar

R

381

278

694

LF

Alex Gordon

L

394

280

794

CF

Jerrod Dyson

L

181

292

704

RF

Nori Aoki

L

325

263

655

DH

Billy Butler

R

402

266

667

IF

Danny Valencia

R

117

287

722

C

Brett Hayes

R

49

125

351

OF

Lorenzo Cain

R

296

296

750

DH

Raul Ibanez*

L

231

155

505

* include Angels' stats

Aoki finally got healthy enough and has taken over right field again, although I think Cain is a much better option. Alex Gordon is their top hitter and an elite defender. Perez and Cain are the next best hitters, but Perez has caught 88 of the team's 100 games and looks to be tiring.

Moustakas has an 858 OPS in July so far, getting him back to just under the Mendoza line. But a lot of that is due to facing the Indians staff. On the season, he has a 345/387/931 slash, five homers and 11 RBI in eight games. Hopefully anyone not named Kluber will walk him or pitch very carefully to him as the rest of the lineup is pretty poor.

Projected Staff

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

WHIP

K/9

James Shields

R

3.58

143.1

1.270

7.5

Yordano Ventura

R

3.59

107.2

1.328

7.4

Jeremy Guthrie

R

4.56

126.1

1.346

5.7

Danny Duffy

L

2.66

91.1

1.117

6.8

Bruce Chen

L

5.80

35.2

1.626

7.6

Greg Holland

R

1.72

36.2

0.955

13.7

Aaron Crow

R

2.61

41.1

1.185

4.8

Wade Davis

R

1.05

42.2

0.773

13.7

Kelvin Herrera

R

1.93

42.0

1.262

7.1

Francisley Bueno

L

2.33

19.1

1.190

6.5

Jason Frasor#

R

3.26

30.1

1.352

8.9

Scott Downs##

L

5.83

29.1

1.534

7.7

# Includes Rangers' stats; ## Includes White Sox stats

Thankfully we miss Shields, who has a decent track record against the Tribe. Duffy is the dreaded lefty. The Indians did score four off him on twelve hits in his eight innings this season. The flamethrower Ventura has had the most success though, only two runs in 15.1 innings and just 14 baserunners in his two starts. As good as Ventura has been, former Tribesman Guthrie has been just as poor; ten runs in 10.1 innings and a scary 21 base hits, including three homers. With Vargas on the shelf, Chen has stepped back into the rotation. He is one of the few lefties the Tribe hits well. They got five runs in 5.1 innings this year so far, and 45 runs in 83 career innings.

If the Indians are to win this series, it will have to do their damage against the starters because the relief corp is superb. Not only do those ERAs look great, their FIPs are almost as good, with Crow the lone exception (4.81 FIP). As a team they have only 8 blown saves, best in the majors. The addition of Frasor gives them five stupendous arms.

On the Shelf

  • SP Jason Vargas [15 day DL], possible late July return
  • RP Luke Hochevar [60 day DL], out for season

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2014

5

4

556

34

39

438

2013

10

9

526

81

83

489

Last 5*

50

41

549

484

422

562

Last 10*

105

78

574

985

821

583

All-Time

318

301

514

2890

2687

533

*Does not include 2014 stats

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