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Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians series preview

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After a very lackluster 3-6 road trip, the last place Indians return home and wrap up a long divisional tour, with the only divisional foe they have yet to face, the Kansas City Royals.

Lorenzo Cain and the running Royals come to town
Lorenzo Cain and the running Royals come to town
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals have been a lightning rod so far in 2015. They have played well, but have played with an edge too. There have been at least three bench clearings and numerous other shenanigans in just 18 games played. Some of the craziness might be justified, as their batters have been hit a whopping 18 times already, while their pitching staff has only hit 5 players.

The MLB office has recently suspended numerous players due to the fracas last Thursday night with the White Sox, but all of them have appealed, so the Royals should have a full roster for this series. In any case, the Tribe needs to focus on fixing their own deficiencies before getting into anymore altercations.

  • Monday's game is at 6:05 PM (Vargas vs. Kluber)
  • Tuesday's game is at 6:10 PM (Guthrie vs. Bauer)
  • Wednesday's game is at 6:10 PM (Ventura vs. Salazar)

The Indians will not get a day off this week as the Toronto Blue Jays follow the Royals into Progressive for a four game set this weekend. They Tribe will visit Kansas City early next week.

Division Watch: Tigers at Twins, White Sox at Orioles

Team in a Box

Kansas City Royals

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2015 Record

12-6

Runs/Game

4.9

7th

Runs/Game

3.3

1st

AL Central

2nd

OBP

355

2nd

H/9

7.3

2nd

Last 10

5-5

SLG

438

2nd

BB/9

2.4

1st

Last 30

-

Steals

15

3rd

SO/9

6.9

12th

The offense has been surprisingly very good thus far. Last year, this team was very dependent on singles, stolen bases and clutch hitting to score runs rather than using the long ball. This year, they are doing that much better and have 14 home runs already. While that is still twelfth in league, it is a far cry from the dead last ranking they had all of last year.

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The pitching staff is doing its thing as well. They don't strike a lot of guys out, but are not allowing very many baserunners either. And when they do, they are very good at preventing them from scoring. If the Tribe offense is to finally hit their stride, having Vargas and Guthrie throw in the first two games might be just what they need. Neither has been off to a good start. And, ther is that whole dominating bullpen too. Cleveland better score early and often, because the pen appears to be even better than last year, even with Holland on the DL. The team added an eighth arm to the pen over the weekend. Tito would be so proud.

Projected Roster

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OPS

wRC+

C

Salvador Perez

R

72

314

805

122

1B

Eric Hosmer

L

81

299

818

133

2B

Omar Infante

R

48

234

570

52

3B

Mike Moustakas

L

83

310

888

153

SS

Alcides Escobar

R

75

294

687

91

LF

Alex Gordon

L

61

255

789

125

CF

Lorenzo Cain

R

75

375

1016

183

RF

Paulo Orlando

R

49

289

880

140

DH

Kendrys Morales

S

81

311

830

129

OF

Jerrod Dyson

L

16

143

343

-2

IF

Christian Colon

R

27

250

625

82

C

Erik Kratz

R

3

000

000

-100

This lineup has been hot from the get go with the exception of Infante and Escobar. So look for those two to break out in this series as the Indians pitchers like to let those types of players start rallies. Cain is off to a great start. And I am not sure how Perez is doing it. Yost abuses him more than any other catcher that I can remember. I think he started the last 40 or games last year and has picked up where he left off, only taking one day off so far this year. Kratz has the easiest paycheck in the league right now.

Projected Staff

Player

Throws

ERA

FIP

IP

WHIP

K/9

Yordano Ventura

R

4.09

4.34

22.0

1.05

7.8

Danny Duffy

L

4.15

3.76

21.2

1.43

6.6

Edinson Volquez

R

1.91

2.54

28.1

0.88

7.3

Jason Vargas

L

6.75

4.36

14.2

1.77

4.9

Jeremy Guthrie

R

5.50

6.51

18.0

1.44

3.5

Wade Davis

R

0.00

1.19

8.0

0.38

10.1

Kelvin Herrera

R

1.23

2.66

7.1

1.36

11.0

Jason Frasor

R

0.00

2.92

7.0

1.29

6.4

Chris Young

R

2.08

4.10

8.2

0.58

5.2

Franklin Morales

L

1.35

1.86

6.2

0.45

5.4

Ryan Madson

R

1.04

2.03

8.2

0.92

9.3

Yohan Pino

R

0.00

1.24

7.2

0.78

8.2

Brandon Finnegan

L

-

-

-

-

-

Vargas was decent in his first start against the Angels, but the Twins roughed him up in his past two starts. In his career is 3-3 in nine starts with a 5.19 ERA, 1.346 WHIP and 5.0 K/9 against Cleveland. Former Tribe first round pick in 2002, Guthrie has yet to have a quality start in 2015. He has not fared well against his former club, going 5-5 in 11 starts, 6.06 ERA, 1.551 WHIP and 5.3 K/9. In 2014, he was even worse, giving up 15 runs in 16 innings, including four homers. Ventura has some extracurricular issues this year, being involved in three incidents in four starts. He has pitched well in all but the Oakland game. He has dominated the Indians in his career, 3-0 in 5 starts, 1.57 ERA, 1.049 WHIP and 6.0 K/9.

With Greg Holland on the DL, Wade Davis has stepped into the closer role and looked very good this season. He dodged a lot of dangerous situations against us last year, one run in seven innings, but gave up eight hits and walking seven while striking out 11. Herrera has been great this year and other than 2013, he has shut down the Tribe bats very well. The rest of the pen is also off to a great start this season.

On the Shelf

  • RP Tim Collins [60 day DL], out for season
  • RP Greg Holland [15 day DL], possible May return
  • RP Luke Hochevar [15 day DL], possible May return, on AAA rehab
  • SP Kris Medlen [60 day DL], possible midseason return
  • RF Alex Rios [15 day DL], possible May return

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2015

-

-

-

-

-

-

2014

10

9

526

74

76

488

Last 5*

50

42

543

474

411

565

Last 10*

104

79

568

965

810

579

All-Time

323

306

514

2930

2724

533

*Does not include 2015 stats

Prediction: Kluber gets his first W (I have said they way too many times already this year), the offense beats up Guthrie and Bauer wins as well. It is the finale that I foresee a pitching duel. IU think Salazar pitches well, but not quite well enough. But the Tribe "should" win this series.