Game 53 Open Thread - Royals vs. Rangers

USA TODAY Sports

James Shields vs. Nick Tepesch

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The Kansas City Royals play an afternoon game today on the road against the Texas Rangers. This feels like the best chance for the Royals to pick up a victory this weekend, as James Shields will take the mound for Kansas City against Nick Tepesch of the Rangers.

Shields struggled against the St. Louis Cardinals in his last start, but has been the Royals best pitcher this season, posting a 2.96 ERA in his first 11 starts. The right-handed starter's peripherals are in last with his past three seasons, as he owns a 3.37 FIP and a 3.40 xFIP. Texas fields a strong offense, but Shields should be ready for the challenge.

The Royals, on the other hand, field a lackluster lineup. David Lesky of Pine Tar Press brings us the Kansas City batting order:

I'd prefer to see George Kottaras in his lineup against a right-handed pitcher, and I would switch Lorenzo Cain with Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas with David Lough. But the lineup is getting closer to what I think is optimal.

Tepesch is a 24 year-old right-handed pitcher who went to high school at Blue Springs High School and the University of Missouri. The Rangers drafted Tepesch in the 14th round of the 2010 Amateur draft, and the starter steadily rose through the team's farm system.

John Sickels of Minor League Ball wrote a profile of Tepesch earlier this season:

Using an 89-94 MPH fastball, a cutter/slider, a curveball, and a changeup, Tepesch picks up his share of ground balls and has shown he can throw strikes and eat innings.

Sickels also described Tepesch of a #4 starter, but has pitched better than that in 9 starts of the season. Tepesch owns a 3.98 ERA, and his 3.76 xFIP and 3.77 SIERA suggest he can continue this level of success. The starter has struck out 17.8% of hitters, which is slightly below-average, but has only walked 6.7% of hitters, which is also below-average. Tepesch also has a 55.2% groundball rate, which helps fuel his success.

Texas is using the same lineup they used last night. The Rangers lineup is brought to us by a Twitter account that tweets about Venezuelan baseball.

Hopefully Adrian Beltre does not hit a home run off his knees again today.

Song of the Day: Aeon Spoke - Pablo at the Park

I stumbled on to Aeon Spoke because some of their former members played in metal bands that I enjoy. Aeon Spoke is far from metal, and gets lumped into the alternative rock genre. Their music is atmospheric and beautiful, so you should check them out.

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