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Series preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals

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The defending World Series Champion Royals (ew, gross) come to Cleveland for the first time this season.

Ed Zurga/Getty Images

For the first time in 2016, the Cleveland Indians will square off against the Kansas City Royals. The two teams have nearly identical records entering the series, but things look much worse for the Royals coming off their World Series (ugh) win.

The Tribe is coming off of a sweep of the Detroit Tigers while the Royals are just 2-7 in their last three series combined. One of these teams is going to come out of this three-game set with a much better outlook going forward -- let's hope it's the Tribe.

Matchups

  • Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Danny Salazar (RHP) vs. Yordano Ventura (RHP)
  • Saturday, 4:10 p.m. ET: Cody Anderson (RHP) vs. Ian Kennedy (RHP)
  • Sunday, 1:10 p.m. ET: Josh Tomlin (RHP) vs. Edinson Volquez (RHP)

The Royals really only have two starters playing well this year, and the Indians, unfortunately, will run right into them. Danny Salazar facing Yordano Ventura should be an advantage for Cleveland, but the other two look to lean heavily toward the Royals. Edison Volquez is the Royals' staff ace to this point, carrying a 3.13 ERA and 2.95 FIP in his six starts this season. Meanwhile, Ian Kennedy with his 2.61 ERA and 3.92 FIP will be facing the struggling Cody Anderson, who has not pitched well in the majors or in his brief time in Triple-A.

Upcoming schedule: The Indians current homestand has a brief interruption with a series away against the Houston Astros starting on Monday, but after that, they return to Cleveland to face the Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds.

Team in a Box

Kansas City Royals

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

Record

14-13

R/G

3.33

15th

ERA

3.70

6th

AL Central

3rd

OBP

.303

12th

HR/9

1.03

7th

Last 10

3-7

SLG

.374

13th

BB/9

3.93

14th

Streak

L1

Steals

22

T-1st

SO/9

8.39

4th

The Royals offense looks rough on paper, but being the scrappy team they always seem to be, Kansas City still leads the league in stolen bases with 22. Unlike in previous seasons, those stolen bases and back-to-back-to-back-to-back singles have not resulted in runs, and they are dead last in scoring in the American League as a result. The Royals are also dead last in home runs, with 21 on the season.

For some more fun Royals facts, they are also seventh in BABIP (.293), but 14th in walk rate (6.7%).

Royals position players

  • C: Salvador Perez
  • 1B: Eric Hosmer
  • 2B: All-Star second baseman Omar Infante
  • SS: Alcides Escobar
  • 3B: Mike Moustakas
  • LF: Alex Gordon
  • CF: Lorenzo Cain
  • RF: Jarrod Dyson
  • DH: Kendrys Morales

Royals bench

  • C: Drew Butera
  • IF: Christian Colon
  • OF: Paulo Orlando

Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are the early offensive leaders for the Royals so far this season, with a wRC+ of 156 and 136, respectively. Moustakas' offense includes a team-high five home runs and .278 isolated power rating.

There is obviously still plenty of time for Alex Gordon to live up to the four-year, $72 million deal he signed this offseason, but he has not done it in the first month of 2016. So far this year he has a wRC+ of 82, however, he also leads the team in walk rate (10.5%). In fact, Gordon is the only member of the Royals with a double-digit walk rate to this point. The Royals may be able to slap base hits around, but right now they cannot walk to save their lives.

By far the biggest offensive disappointment for the Royals thus far is Kendrys Morales. The designated hitter had a legitimate shot at a few MVP votes last season but so far in 2016, he is slashing .200/.248/.310 with two home runs.

Royals starting rotation

  • RHP: Edinson Volquez
  • RHP: Chris Young
  • RHP: Kris Medlen
  • RHP: Yordano Ventura
  • RHP: Ian Kennedy

Royals bullpen

  • RHP: Wade Davis
  • RHP: Kelvin Herrera
  • RHP: Joakim Soria
  • RHP: Luke Hochevar
  • LHP: Danny Duffy
  • RHP: Dillon Gee
  • RHP: Chien-Ming Wang
  • RHP: Miguel Almonte

Despite a lackluster starting rotation, the Royals bullpen is still spectacular, for the most part. Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera have not allowed a run over 23.1 combined innings.