James Shields will take the hill for Kansas City at 1:10 today as the Royals look to take two of three from the division leading Tigers. Detroit is already comfortably at the top of the A.L. Central despite having only the fifth best record in the American League.
The Tigers will send out Justin Verlander, who sports just the fourth best earned run average among his team's starting rotation. We all know the inaccuracy of pitcher won-loss records, but it is hard not to mention that in 24 starts against the Royals, Verlander is 15-2 with an earned run average of 2.67. Over 162 career innings, the 30 year old hurler has allowed just 141 hits and 7 home runs. This just in, Justin Verlander is pretty good against everyone and especially against the Royals.
Verlander has allowed three runs over seven innings in each of his last three starts, bouncing back from three very poor starts in the middle of May. He has allowed 9.2 hits per 9 innings this season after allowing just 7.3 last year and only 6.2 in 2011. Small sample size or is Verlander getting just a touch older?
You all know the James Shields' story. In 13 starts, he has allowed more than three runs just twice, but yet the Royals are just 5-8 in his starts. The team has won Shields' last two starts, scoring four runs in each of those, but not doing so in timely enough fashion for James to get the win himself. Again, win-loss records for pitchers are misleading, but I think we can safely say that Shields is the best 2-6 pitcher in baseball.
The Royals' perpetually struggling offense has not been helped by a 5-34 June start by Alex Gordon. One would imagine a breakout is on the horizon for the Royals' best player.
If you are in or around Kansas City, take the afternoon off and catch the game. Tell your boss/wife/yourself that I said it was okay.