Game 59 Preview - Royals vs. Astros

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Just one good week away

The Kansas City Royals will try to extend their winning streak to four games today and continue their march back to .500 at Kauffman Stadium against the Houston Astros.

Ervin Santana will take the mound for Kansas City. Santana continues to impress, as he has posted a 3.03 ERA after his first 11 starts. His 3.52 xFIP and 3.53 SIERA suggest that we can expect Santana to allow more runs moving forward, but he should still pitch at an above-average level.

Nearly 90% of Santana's pitches are either his four-seam fastball or slider. He continues to sprinkle in a two-seam fastball and a changeup, but they are mostly used to give hitters a different look.

We can expect Santana to stop stranding as many runners as the season progresses, which will inflate his ERA. The veteran's current LOB% is 84.9%, which is 8.3% higher than his highest single-season LOB%, and 12.4% better than his career LOB%.

Santana is matched up against southpaw Erik Bedard. Bedard, demoted to the bullpen earlier this season but back in the rotation out of necessity, has posted a 4.76 ERA in 51 innings pitched. His 5.06 xFIP and 4.60 SIERA suggest his struggles will continue unless he can improve his peripherals.

Bedard has seen his strikeouts slip, but he still fans hitters at a league-average rate. His walk rate, however, is 2.6% above league-average, and will need to come down for the lefty to find success.

The Royals offense would be wise to work the count against Bedard, as they should be able to chase the veteran lefty early in the game. Even if Bedard is not the pitcher he once was, he is still a better option than anyone in the Astros bullpen, which has an AL worst 4.85 ERA and 5.08 FIP.

Houston is just not a very good team, and while the Royals aren't exactly world-beaters themselves, they should still take care of business against the Astros at home with their second-best starting pitcher taking the ball.

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