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Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals series preview

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It’s the penultimate series against the Royals this season. Celebration?

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the most exciting part of the last series was the addition of Josh Donaldson to the team. While he hasn’t played in any games for the Cleveland Indians yet, he’s definitely been in the dugout and he’s definitely been working out. He wants to play when the team heads to Toronto next weekend, but who knows at this point? But before that, the Indians will welcome in the Kansas City Royals for three games.

Looking ahead

The Indians head north after this series for a four-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays. After that, the Indians head down to Florida for round two against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Royals, on the other hand, will head to Target Field to take on the Twins for three games before heading back home to welcome in the Chicago White Sox for three games.

Pitching match-ups

Monday, September 3 4:10 p.m. ET: Jakob Junis (RHP) v. Adam Plutko (RHP)

Jakob Junis has been meh this season for the Kansas City Royals. But meh is good enough to be the Royals’ #2 starter. Across 147.0 innings this season, Junis has allowed 74 earned runs while walking 40 hitters and striking out 139 (which translates to an ERA+ of 95). His most recent start came on August 28 against the Detroit Tigers; in that game, Junis went the full nine innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 6 hits while walking no one and striking out 7.

Plutko has also been meh this season, but the difference is that Plutko is Cleveland’s #6 starter as opposed to the #2 starter. If Trevor Bauer is healthy, Plutko is probably still in Columbus. Across 58.1 innings this season, Plutko has allowed 32 earned runs while walking 19 hitters and striking out 44 (which translates to an ERA+ of 90). His most recent start came on August 29 against the Minnesota Twins; in that game, Plutko went 5.1 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 2 hitters and striking out 5.

Tuesday, September 4 7:10 p.m. ET: Danny Duffy (LHP) v. Mike Clevinger (RHP)

Danny Duffy has been worse than Jakob Junis this season, making him the #3 starter for the Royals. Across 154.1 innings, Duffy has allowed 81 earned runs while walking 69 hitters and striking out 141 (which translates to an ERA+ of 91). His most recent start came on August 29 against the Tigers; in that game, Duffy went 6.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 2 hits while walking 3 and striking out 6.

Clevinger has been on a roll lately. He had one outing in August that was fewer than six innings, but all of his other starts were excellent. Overall this season, he’s been stellar. Across 170.1 innings, Clevinger has allowed 60 earned runs while walking 56 hitters and striking out 172 (which translates to an ERA+ of 139). His most recent start came on August 30 against the Minnesota Twins; in that game, Clevinger went 6.2 innings and allowed zero earned runs on 4 hits while walking 1 hitter and striking out 9.

Wednesday, September 5 1:10 p.m. ET: Brad Keller (RHP) v. Corey Kluber (RHP)

Brad Keller started his rookie season in the bullpen for the Royals, but he’s transitioned into the rotation since the end of May. Both parts of his season combined, he’s been arguably the most effective pitcher for the Royals in 2018. Across 113.1 innings, Keller has allowed 41 earned runs while walking 43 hitters and striking out 76 (which translates to an ERA+ of 132). His most recent start came on August 31 against the Baltimore Orioles; in that game, Keller went 8.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 4 hits while walking 2 hitters and striking out 4.

In August, Corey Kluber had 1 rough start, one sub-par start, and four good starts. Having dealt with an injury earlier in the season, it’s nice to see him pitching well more often than not. His numbers on the season are still fantastic; across 186.2 innings, Kluber has allowed 58 earned runs while walking 27 hitters and striking out 180 (which translates to an ERA+ of 158). His most recent start came on August 31 against the Tampa Bay Rays; in that game, Kluber went 7.0 innings and allowed zero runs on 2 hits while walking 2 hitters and striking out 8.

Players to watch

This section really hasn’t changed from a week ago. Whit Merrifield is still the engine that drives the offense and the Keller-less bullpen is still led by Kevin McCarthy. Still keep any eye on Salvador Perez because he’s always a threat, and Mike Moustakas went on a tear in August (.277/.343/.511), but the Royals are still a team very much in the throes of a rebuild.

Storylines

Will Josh Donaldson play?

Probably not.

Will Cody Allen continue to struggle?

I certainly hope not.

Will Jason Kipnis continue as Chippy Kippy as he fights for his spot on the diamond?

I very much hope so.

Kansas City Royals roster

FanGraphs

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Royals?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    3
    (14 votes)
  • 48%
    2
    (19 votes)
  • 10%
    1
    (4 votes)
  • 5%
    0
    (2 votes)
39 votes total Vote Now