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Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals series preview

The nail might be in the coffin, so now the Kansas City Royals come to finish the burial. With little to play for except their pride, the Indians welcome the division leading Royals to Progressive the next three days.

Speedster Lorenzo Cain runs the bases to score a run (yes that is allowed in baseball)
Speedster Lorenzo Cain runs the bases to score a run (yes that is allowed in baseball)
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

This will be the fourth series meeting between the Kansas City Royals and the Tribe, but the first since early June. The Royals took two of three in late April in Cleveland, then two of three in KC the week after. In early June, the Tribe did manage to take two of three in KC. At that time, the Royals were neck and neck in the division lead. But since that last loss to the Indians, the Royals have been on fire, going 29-17, pushing their lead over the Twins to 7.5 games.

  • Monday 7:10 PM: Edinson Volquez (R) vs. Cody Anderson (R)
  • Tuesday 7:10 PM: Chris Young (R) vs. Trevor Bauer (R)
  • Wednesday 12:10 PM: Jeremy Guthrie (R) vs. Corey Kluber (R)

The Upcoming Schedule: The Indians make their final venture west as they will play four in Oakland next weekend and three in Anaheim before taking a day off before the next homestand.

Division Watch: Pirates at Twins, Tigers at Rays, White Sox at Red Sox.

Team in a Box

Kansas City Royals

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2015 Record

59-38

Runs/Game

4.3

8th

Runs/Game

3.6

1st

AL Central

1st

OBP

324

3rd

H/9

8.2

3rd

Last 10

6-4

SLG

409

6th

BB/9

2.9

9th

Last 30

19-11

Steals

60

3rd

SO/9

6.9

13th

* All stats except record are through Saturday's games

The Royals hitting is still fairly nondescript at scoring runs, even though they get on base at a very good clip. And the high on-base percentage is fueled strictly by their hitting prowess as they are dead last in taking walks. The slugging is pretty high considering they are only thirteenth in home runs. But the reason they are the best team in the AL is because of pitching. They lead the league in the most important stat, runs allowed. They walk a few too many guys and don't really strike anyone out. But their defense more than makes up for the few batted balls in play.

Projected Roster

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OPS

wRC+

C

Salvador Perez

R

339

255

709

93

1B

Eric Hosmer

L

393

304

821

128

2B

Omar Infante

R

342

230

552

47

3B

Mike Moustakas

L

376

296

798

124

SS

Alcides Escobar

R

391

289

690

92

LF

Paulo Orlando

R

154

248

710

94

CF

Lorenzo Cain

R

362

310

857

137

RF

Alex Rios

R

207

256

623

72

DH

Kendrys Morales

S

388

277

787

118

OF

Jerrod Dyson

L

144

252

699

96

C

Drew Butera

R

42

179

405

7

IF

Cheslor Cuthbert

R

16

333

842

134

This lineup does pretty well considering both Infante and Rios are liabilities in the batter's box. Cain is having a superb season, Hosmer looks like he finally has it figured out, and the Morales signing has paid dividends. Even the loss of Alex Gordon in left has not been too detrimental as Orlando and Dyson have done well subbing in for him. I think Perez still plays way too often, but Butera hasn't shown any reason to take more time either. Their bench is limited (like Cleveland's) as they do carry eight bullpen arms.

Hosmer, Moustakas and Rios have led the way the past two weeks with all three of them clearing 900 OPS, with Moustakas crushing three bombs. Perez, Infante and Dyson all have been sub-600 OPS. In the nine games so far between these too, Hammy's boy Hosmer has lit up the Tribe pitchers to a 361/410/750 line with three homers and 13 of their 41 RBI. Morales and Moustakas both are above 900 OPS as well.

Projected Staff

Player

Throws

ERA

FIP

IP

WHIP

K/9

Edinson Volquez

R

3.15

3.59

120.0

1.25

6.8

Jeremy Guthrie

R

5.35

4.72

107.0

1.54

4.7

Chris Young

R

3.32

4.61

95.0

1.07

5.8

Yordano Ventura

R

5.19

3.69

76.1

1.35

7.7

Danny Duffy

L

4.03

4.26

76.0

1.41

5.7

Greg Holland

R

3.23

2.87

30.2

1.30

10.3

Kelvin Herrera

R

1.90

3.09

42.2

0.96

8.4

Wade Davis

R

0.42

1.63

42.2

0.82

10.5

Ryan Madson

R

1.77

2.99

40.2

0..86

8.0

Franklin Morales

L

2.23

2.94

40.1

0.94

5.4

Joe Blanton

R

3.96

3.32

38.2

1.22

8.8

Luke Hochevar

R

3.18

3.06

22.2

1.28

9.9

Kris Medlen

R

6.75

4.75

5.1

1.31

8.4

Johnny Cueto was recently acquired but will not pitch in this series. I doubt they will activate him until the next series so they can keep the extra bullpen arm. He will likely take Ventura's spot as he was recently demoted, only to be quickly recalled when Jason Vargas was lost for the year. In the pen, Kris Medlen was recently activated as well.

Volquez has had a deceiving July. He has a 3.07 ERA, but a 1.50 WHIP to go along with a 8.0 K/9 in 29.1 innings covering five starts. He struggled when facing Cleveland May 7, lasting just three innings. But he did only surrender three runs after giving up two hits and six walks (that Tribe offense at its finest). Young has had a much unluckier July. He has a 4.97 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 5.7 K/9 in just 25.1 innings. He made scoreless relief appearances on April 28 and May 6, covering 3.1 innings, but was hit hard by the Tribe hitters on June 4. He only pitched five innings and gave up all six runs in a 6-2 loss. Guthrie too has had a rough last month. He has a 4.02 ERA, 1.56 WHIP and 5.7 K/9 in 31.1 innings. He did pitch great on April 28, giving up four runs in five innings, but the Royals came back to win 11-5. He also had a no decision on June in a 2-1 Tribe win, giving up just two hits (one a homer by Moss) in 5.1 innings.

If the Tribe hope to win any of these three games, they better do it early and often against those three starters because the bullpen is downright filthy. In the 33 appearances covering the 9 Tribe games, they have 2.91 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 7.1 K/9.

On the Shelf

  • LF Alex Gordon [15 day DL], possible September return
  • RP Tim Collins [60 day DL], out for season
  • SP Jason Vargas [15 day DL], out for season
  • P Brian Flynn [60 day DL], no timetable for return

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2015

4

5

444

41

44

468

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

327

311

513

2971

2768

532

*Does not include 2015 stats

Prediction: Normally I'd like the Indians chances at securing a series win based on the pitching matchups, but right now our offense cannot hit itself out of the proverbial wet bag. I'll expect just a solitary win this series (but with how this Jekyll/Hyde season has gone, watch them sweep the Royals just for the heck of it).