Game 46 Preview - Royals vs. Angels

Ed Zurga

It's Faith and Family Day at the K. I can guarantee you some bad jokes related to the event in your future.

The Kansas City Royals will hope to stop their free fall on Saturday with an afternoon game against the Los Angeles Angels.

The Royals, who have gone 4-14 since starting the season 17-10, will send Jeremy Guthrie to the mound against the Halos to try and stop the bleeding. The Stormin' Mormon has a 3.49 ERA after his first 9 starts of the season, but he's likely to allow more runs per start as the season progresses.

Guthrie's ERA estimators look far worse than his run-prevention numbers. The veteran has a 5.88 FIP, 4.75 xFIP and 4.88 SIERA. Guthrie does have a track record of out-pitching his peripherals in his career, but he's leaving himself even less margin for error. Guthrie is only striking out 12.9% of the hitters he has faced, which is 7% below the league-average and 1.3% below his career average. He is also walking a league-average number of hitters after posting below-average walk rates since 2006.

The right-handed starter is surviving by stranding 90.9% of runners who have reached base against him this season. Guthrie's career average is 73.2% of runners stranded, while the league average is 73.1%. More of the other team's baserunners will start crossing home plate.

We saw some of the regression in Guthrie's last start against the Houston Astros. Houston tagged Guthrie for six runs on eight hits in five innings. Astros hitters smacked two home runs and drew three walks against Guthrie, and only struck out twice.

The Angels hit Guthrie well on May 14 when the two teams met at Angel Stadium. Hopefully Guthrie has a new approach or better stuff today, or else he may get battered again.

Los Angeles will start former Royals pitcher Billy Buckner. Buckner started five games for the Royals in 2007 before Dayton Moore traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Alberto Callaspo.

Buckner started 16 games for Arizona in 2009 and 2010, but didn't pitch well enough to stick in the rotation. The right-handed pitched in the Colorado Rockies farm system in 2011 and the Boston Red Sox farm sytem in 2012 before signing up with the Angels this season.

Bucker has not looked particularly impressive this year, posting a 4.56 ERA and 3.98 FIP in Triple-A. The 29-year-old misses an acceptable amount of bats, but has walked 12% of the batter he has faced. Kansas City hitters have claimed they are working on their plate approach; today would be a good day to show it.

Even if I've been underwhelmed with Guthrie this season, he should be a better option than a journeyman spot-starter. God help us if the Royals offense can't score runs today.

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