The Kansas City Royals will play two games against the Cleveland Indians today after their first game was rained out on Friday. The first double-header of the season against the Boston Red Sox went quite well for the team, and they hope to continue that success today.
Jeremy Guthrie will face Justin Masterson in the first game. Guthrie's traditional statistics look pretty solid, as he is currently 2-0 with a 3.68 ERA. His K% and BB% also look solid, but he has struggled with the longball, surrendering 2.1 HR/9. The veteran starter struggled surrendering home runs last season, but did spend half of his season pitching for the Colorado Rockies. Pitching in Kauffman Stadium should help Guthrie, but his home-run rate is something that needs to be monitored as the season goes on.
Masterson has a shiny 1.85 ERA in his first five starts this season, and has so far increased his strikeout percentage to compliment his strong groundball numbers. Masterson has traditionally struggled against left-handed hitters, so this would be a great matchup for Mike Moustakas to start working out of his slump. Jarrod Dyson also needs to play in the first game for Jeff Francoeur, since Masterson devours right-handed hitters.
Will Smith will start the second game against Corey Kluber. Smith has looked spectacular in Omaha this season, striking out 35 percent of the batters he has faced this season. The southpaw hasn't posted strong strikeout rates over a full season since 2010 in High-A, so it's best to remain skeptical about his newfound ability to miss bats. Smith is only 23, and if he has made some improvement in that area, he could make a nice extra arm to keep in Triple-A or the bullpen to make spot starts.
Kluber owns some ugly ERA numbers as a starer, posting a 5.14 ERA in 12 starts during the 2012 season. He did have a very low LOB% and high BABIP, so if he manages to normalize those statistics, he could be capable eating innings with an era around 4.00. It's certainly not a guarantee that he will get those numbers around league-average, as any Royals fan who watched Luke Hochevar over the past few seasons can attest, but we really don't have enough information on Kluber in the majors to make a strong judgement.
Cleveland should have the advantage on the mound during the first game, but the second game is essentially a wash between two spot starters. The first pitch for the first game will be thrown at 1:10 p.m. CT, with the second game scheduled to start at 7:10.
The first game will be televised on FSKC, but the second game will not be televised. Bob Dutton reported earlier that tickets to Friday's rainout can only be redeemed for the Sunday night game.