Game 73 Open Thread - Royals vs. White Sox

USA TODAY Sports

James Shields vs. Dylan Axelrod

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The Kansas City Royals hope to avoid a three-game sweep on Sunday at the hands of the Chicago White Sox.

James Shields will start for the Royals. Shields has been as good, if not better than advertised, sporting a 2.72 ERA in 106 innings pitched this season. The starter owns a 3.29 FIP, 3.51 xFIP and 3.61 SIERA, so we expect Shields to allow a few more runs per start moving forward, but he should still post strong numbers. Shields owns a 81.4% LOB% in 2013, compared to his career average 73.2% LOB%, which has helped him out-perform his peripherals.

Shields has not won a start since April 30, but the Royals have at least won his last four starts. It would be nice to see the team give Shields some run support early, but as long as they eventually win, everyone should be happy.

Ned Yost switched around the lineup for today's game. Alcides Escobar is hitting second again, sliding Hosmer down to third. Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain have the day off, replaced by George Kottaras and Jarrod Dyson. Josh Vernier of 610 Sports brings us the Royals lineup:

Chicago will send Dylan Axelrod to the mound. Axelrod has not pitched well this season; he owns a 4.39 ERA, 4.81 FIP and 4.91 SIERA. The right-hander is only striking out 13.3% of batters faced, but issues walks to 7.8%.

Kansas City faced Axelrod earlier this season, and he threw his best start of the season. Axelrod only allowed two runs on eight hits over 7 2/3 innings despite striking out zero Royals. Fortunately, Jeremy Guthrie pitched a complete game shutout, so the Royals escaped with a victory.

The White Sox lineup looks fairly familiar, except Hector Gimenez is catching in place of Tyler Flowers. Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago brings us the visitor's lineup:

The Royals have a two-game series against the Atlanta Braves starting on Tuesday before hitting the road again, so a win today is fairly important.

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